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According to the CDC, every year approximately two million people are diagnosed with some type of cancer in the United States alone. Common procedures for cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Hyperthermia, an effective collateral treatment, is not included as part of regular cancer care. This is primarily due to its high cost.

Clinical studies for hyperthermia coupled with chemotherapy/radiation therapy have indicated up to a three-fold increase in survival rates of cancer patients. Unfortunately, current microwave hyperthermia systems are bulky, expensive and require special infrastructure in hospitals thus driving up the cost. The objective of this project is to design and test a low-cost, power-efficient and conformal 3D printable microwave mild hyperthermia applicator for regular breast cancer care.

Our approach involves designing a new protocol that combines 3D printing technology and microwave antennas, reducing power required for heat transfer. Antenna designs and their response to human breast tissues were simulated in HFSS. A Matlab model software was created that simulates the heating effect of an array of antennas to predict the theoretical heating affect from the applicator. Utilizing dual print technology, the housing of the applicator was printed with plastics (PLA) while conductive filaments were used for the antennas.

The antennas required a conductive polymer that was extrusion and 3D print capable. Methods such as solution mixing and melt mixing of conductive nanoparticles, and sputtering were explored to accomplish this. The conductive materials were characterized using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and Infrared Spectroscopy (IR). This information was used to determine the best technique to enhance the electrical properties of the material.

The applicator is designed to be conformal, catering to a patient’s body type. This increases efficiency and makes it cost-effective. The protocol designed can/will be used for other cancer types as well.

Publication Date



Engineering, Cancer, Hyperthermia, Microwave Antenna, 3D – Printing, Additive manufacturing, 3D Antennas, RF Hyperthermia



Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Afroditi V. Filippas

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Erdem Topsakal

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2016

3D Printed Microwave Hyperthermia Applicator

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Engineering Commons