The Project: Eliminate the issues that exist with the uncoated acrylic over the LCD flat-panel display on a cosmetic system.
The Solution: Use an abrasion-resistant optical-grade acrylic sheet that functions like glass, but is significantly lighter and more durable.
Antoinette Spages is a product line manager, Project Business-N.A., Performance Polymers at Evonik Cyro LLC. She can be reached at 800-631-5384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thermage's ThermaCool NXT system was developed to change the way physicians perform non-invasive aesthetic cosmetic procedures on their patients. Because the ThermaCool NXT allows for treatments to be performed up to 20% faster and enables more flexibility and greater ease-of-use, doctors can perform more procedures and help more patients achieve naturally younger-looking skin. All the advantages of the ThermaCool NXT system are being realized, in part, due to a facelift performed on the system's flat-panel LCD (liquid crystal display) screen that included using an abrasion-resistant optical-grade acrylic sheet from Evonik Cyro, LLC.
The ThermaCool NXT is Thermage's second-generation system for skin tightening and contouring—a safe, non-invasive cosmetic procedure that is clinically proven to help smooth, tighten, and contour skin to restore a naturally younger looking appearance by helping to tighten existing collagen and stimulate new natural collagen growth.
The procedure works by heating collagen fibers deep in the skin and underlying tissue, while protecting the skin's surface with a cooling spray. A treatment tip is attached to the ThermaCool NXT system's handpiece. The tip briefly touches the skin, delivering non-invasive capacitive radio frequency (RF) energy beneath the skin. This deep uniform heating action causes the structures in the skin and underlying tissue to immediately tighten. Over time, new and remodeled collagen is produced to further tighten and contour skin.
Getting a Clear Picture
Part of the system is the flat-panel LCD, which is attached to a moveable cart. Compared to the first-generation system, the ThermaCool NXT screen has a larger viewing area with an enhanced display that is bright, crisp, and easy-to-read. To make procedures easier, on-screen instructions appear on the LCD so that the current system status and treatment settings are clearly seen. Unfortunately, wear and tear, as well as general use, offset these design improvements because the uncoated acrylic used to protect the display was extremely susceptible to marring and scratching.
"The ThermaCool NXT is on wheels and gets moved around frequently and gets bumped," said Brian Gauck, ThermaCool NXT product manager. He explained that Thermage management realized an improvement was necessary. After evaluating other options, Thermage re-designed the display to incorporate Acrylite abrasion-resistant optical grade acrylic sheet from Evonik Cyro, which is used as a protective lens/shield.
"The LCD with the Evonik Cyro product resists scratches and stands up to the wear and tear of daily use in physicians' practices," said Gauck.
The hard-coated Acrylite is durable because it has a proprietary silicon coating, available on one or both sides, that minimizes abrasion and scratches, while improving chemical resistance. The latter point has proven to be advantageous as well, as it can be cleaned like glass, yet is half the weight. Because of the frequency in which the LCD is washed, the uncoated acrylic previously used on the ThermaCool NXT systems became "hazy" and made it difficult to read the display.
There are other advantages as well. Acrylite provides superior light transmission and doesn't have the yellow hue common in other polycarbonate polymers. These factors improve the clarity and brilliance of the LCD display of the ThermaCool NXT system, while reducing the unwanted glare and reflection that often interferes with the display. This allows physicians to better see system status and treatment settings. It also offers more impact resistance than standard glass, which improves patient and user safety.
In general, Evonik Cyro's Acrylite, which can also be used on other products where clarity is important, provides high optical quality, abrasion and chemical resistance, reduced weight, and has 40 times the mar resistance of a similar uncoated acrylic sheet.
The durability of the acrylic sheet offers additional benefits, according to Gauck. When Thermage first began shipping the ThermaCool NXT system with the LCD covered by the other material, customers complained about receiving units with scratched displays. "Early on, we were shipping these around the world, often to Asia, and due to the long distance, they were getting banged around," he said.
"We were receiving many complaints about systems arriving with scratched LCDs," Gauck added. "Now, they're still being shipped long distances, but we're no longer hearing these complaints."
And once the ThermaCool NXT systems get to their destinations, Gauck noted, the Evonik Cyro sheets help physicians focus on reducing the lines on their patients' skin, rather than worrying about the lines on the monitors and display screens of their equipment.