New technology is always in development. One of the advantages of today’s inventors is that silicone rubber can be molded into nearly any shape to fit nearly any size. This flexible and versatile material can aid in new product design. Through 2014, several new ideas involving rubber silicone have come of age. One potentially historic breakthrough is in cancer research, and another is a new-fangled heart monitor. One of properties of medical silicone rubber is that it’s inert, so it’s suitable for use in the human body. When manufactured using the liquid silicone injection molding process, its flexibility, durability and resilience in variable temperatures makes it more useful in medical inventions.
At the Heart of Technology
A scientist at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois has been working with his students to devise a device that can detect heart abnormalities and potentially save a person’s life. As shown in the video clip above, electronic sensors can detect and relay sodium, potassium and calcium levels of the heart, as well as temperature and acid levels that could warn patients of an impending heart attack. According to The Smithsonian, John Rogers and his team tested a medical tool earlier this year that resembles a sock made from silicone rubber that’s fitted with sensors. The artificial membrane was successfully tested on a rabbit’s heart earlier this year. The transition from testing to actual patient use is reportedly expected to take the better part of 10 years.
New Medical Breakthrough for Cancer Research
One of the most exciting medical breakthroughs involving medical silicone rubber has come from cancer researchers at Johns Hopkins. John Wong, a doctoral student, and his advisor, Peter Searson, have developed a patent-pending device made of glass and silicone rubber molding that has uncovered the process of how cancer cells spread, or metastasize. According to The Baltimore Sun, the scientists used the palm-sized device to find out how cancer migrates from one organ to the next using blood or lymph. Silicone rubber molding is effectively used in medical devices because it’s pliable yet durable, and it can be sterilized.
Since breakthroughs in medical technology tend to come when researchers better understand how the human body operates, this is exciting news for the cancer research community and those whose lives are touched by cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there were an estimated 585,720 cancer-related deaths and an estimated 1.6 million new cancer cases projected for patients in the U.S. this year.
As the possibilities grow for creating new medical technology, it’s important for inventors and medical research scientists who wish to use medical silicone rubber to work with engineers familiar with the manufacturing process. If you are designing a device that has the potential to use liquid silicone injection molding or rubber keypads, SiTECH can help you to dial in the technical requirements and possibilities to make it work. Check out our Application Guide to learn more, or call our office at (757) 887-8488 to speak to an engineering expert.