Counting temperature thresholds

How often is your medical instrument running through an autoclave? Hahn-Schickard is working on a solution based on microsystem technology to provide an answer to this question.

Sterilization cycle counter

Recording sterilization cycles represents a specific use case of a temperature threshold counter. Steam pressure sterilization (autoclaving) of medical instruments is necessary to ensure a germfree and safe reuse. However, this process with hot steam imposes extensive strain on the instruments and therefore the count of reuse is limited.

The sterilization cycle counter is based on the heterogeneous integration of a thermal actuator into a micro mechanical counting mechanism.
A medical instrument equipped with such a device is able to record the number of sterilization cycles individually.
The sterilization cycle counter is designed as a 5x5 mm MEMS device and operates without the need of batteries. The function of the device has been verified within an autoclave demonstrating the feasibility of the concept. Current work focuses on manufacturing aspects in order to obtain robust counter devices with reproducible characteristics.

Medical instruments being able to autonomously record their life cycle contribute to an increased patient safety. Moreover, the hygiene management in hospitals and doctor’s practices is simplified since no additional activity is needed for recording individual sterilization cycles. Manufacturer of medical products will be in an unprecedented position to detect inadmissible overuse by the user. The abuse of warranty claims is thus preventable.

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