This is part 1 of a four part project.
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
I’ve been working on building my own Coolsculpting device as Zeltiq are offering.It is a machine which reduces fat cells in the body. The below video shows how it is done.
The way in which it does this is explained in the patent, found here.
The patent says a number of interesting things including: An exemplary range for the cooling elements 130a-b can be from about -20.degree. C. to about 20.degree. C., preferably from about -20.degree. C. to about 10. degree. C., more preferably from about -15.degree. C. toabout 5.degree. C., more preferably from about -10.degree. C. to about 0.degree. C.
My machine is currently running at -3C and to avoid freezing the controller bounces it between -3C and 0C. I am still in testing stages in using liquids/gels which don’t freeze so that I can get to -5C and keep it there. I am currently using salt water drenched cloth, but this freezes at -5C. If anyone knows what sort of liquid/gel I can obtain easily, mess free and doesn’t freeze at -5C, please let me know!!
Edit: I’m using a terry towel soaked in Propylene Glycol. This works fine for -5degC (freezing point of Propylene Glycol is -59degC).
From the patents, we can see there are a couple of mechanisms that make the Coolsculptor work:
1) The cooling effect keeps the fat cells at about -5 Degrees Celsius for up to an hour. If the cells get cooler you risk damage to non-fat cells. If it gets warmer the fat cells may not undergo apoptosis.
2) The vacuum ‘sucking’ of the fat also assist in limiting the amount of blood to the area being treated. This prevent the body from warming up the fat cells. The lack of blood is a double-edged sword in that when the device is switched off and the blood rushes back to the area, the cells are ‘shocked’ and this also kills the cell (there is a technical name for this which I have forgotten. Its in the patent if you’re interested).
So, knowing the above I created FrankenSculptor. The two aluminium plates serve to transfer heat (or in this case, remove heat) quickly while also having a clamping mechanism to ‘squeeze’ the blood away from the area (given that its not a vacuum I am hoping it is enough to cause apoptosis of the fat cells).
The two aluminium plates need to be cooled to below room temperature, so this means a normal radiator system wont be enough. An active cooling system is needed. Luckily we have such a device! The Peltier.
The Peltier (aka TEC, Thermo Electric Cooler) is a bunch of transistors which when powered cause a temperature differential between each side. The transistors are placed in an array and ceramic plates are glued to either side to transfer the heat evenly. TEC's are cheap. Around $20 each. Be careful when buying TEC's as you may get cheap Chinese crap for much cheaper, but it may not work as well.
The TEC acts as a kind of ‘heat pump’ – it takes heat from one surface and places it on the other causing one plate to be cooler than the other. The more heat you can remove heat from the hot side, the cooler the cold side will get. The way the TEC works is quite inefficient and it generates its own heat, so you need to remove more heat than you would think.
To do this you need a very good cooling system. I used a computer CPU closed-loop water cooler. Essentially it is a block of copper which is liquid cooled using a pump, the liquid itself is cooled using a small radiator (like in your car). For what it is and does, this device is relatively cheap (around $150 each), the CPU coolers which you can build yourself are much more expensive but you get to choose how long the pipes are that connect the radiator to the cooling block (the ones I used had pipes too short and got in the way often).
The two aluminium plates on my FrankenSculptor required a TEC and a CPU cooler each. These devices are assembled using heat transfer paste
and copper sheet (edit: copper sheet was removed, it was redundant) between the aluminium and TEC for heat transfer. The TEC’s run on DC power and so do the CPU coolers! Great! This means we can use a computer PSU to power everything.
For the prototype I am using a 800W PSU (make sure you get a decent one. A cheapo one may not power the TEC’s properly). So how can we control the temperature of the TEC? We don’t want it to go as cool as possible and stay there (for the record, the coldest I could get was just over -10C). The TEC’s can accept anywhere from 5v – 15v. If you vary the voltage you can control the temperature. The PSU’s only output 12v+/-, 5v+/- and 3.3v+. Using some clever electronics we could regulate the voltage, but I found this more challenging and convoluted than needed.
Instead, I opted for a controller which controlled the temperature using pulses (essentially, turning the TEC off when too cold and back on when too warm). The TEC’s don’t like to be controlled this way if you are switching too quickly, so be sure you don’t create a controller which switches the TEC too often.
My controller is Arduino-based. It runs off the 5v rail of the PSU. It monitors the temperature and adjusts accordingly. It also has a screen to let you know what is going on. I won’t go in to detail about this just yet as I still need to post up those pictures. Stay tuned!!
There are so many different facets of this project that needed to come together. Because of this the construction of this device took a while. To make things easier for me, I will be splitting the DIY in to multiple parts. At the moment it looks like it will be 3 parts but this may change later.
EDIT: Part 2 is now available. See main menu for link. Any questions or want to discuss the project? Post a comment!
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This is part 1 of a four part project.
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
November 10, 2013 at 11:31 am
Love the build. I was thinking of using cryolipolysis, but I’m starting out slow with low temps using gel/ice packs. What is the temperature Zeltic uses? I thought I read 5 degrees C.
November 11, 2013 at 11:45 am
Jesse, there is no official word from Zeltiq on this. During their own testing they use a unit of measurement for temperature which incorporates the rate at which the temp drops/climbs. I think they intentionally used an obscure unit of measurement (which, incidentally, they created themselves!) to further throw off would-be competitors.
My educated guess on the temp is -5degC.
I got this information primarily from two sources:
1) The Zeltiq-submitted patent information mentions a variety of temperature ranges where the most ideal range has -5degC in the middle.
2) Chinese-produced knock-offs of the Zeltiq run at this temperature. One would hope they would get the temperature correct 😉
On the flip side. I spoke to a doctor who carries out these procedures and he told me it is +5degC. So, be sure to research it yourself and careful you dont give yourself frostbite.
November 21, 2013 at 10:49 am
maybe some kind of car coolant with antifreeze will do the work for you?
November 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm
I am currently testing using antifreeze. This is working fine as I am pushing the TEC’s to the limit (about -18degC) and the antifreeze is still in liquid state. So using it on the body shouldn’t be an issue.
Indeed, I have used it once so far at -5degC for 45 minutes and no tissue damage at all.
November 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm
Really interested on hearing the results in the coming weeks/months..
As for the liquid/gel I would recommend using a glycerine-water mixture with a ratio of 1:3. You can easily obtain glycerine from a pharmacy or even a supermarket where it may be in the medicinal area. It’s also occasional used in some cooking receipes. It’s completely non-toxic and is easily the best option for you. You can easily make a gel type solution by adding gelatine in the same way as you would make jelly.. just more diluted.
For the ultimate anti-freeze you can look at Propylene Glycol – pure solutions of which can be obtained via photographic chemical suppliers. It’s also non toxic not necessarily food grade versus glycerine which usually is. PG is also the major component of automotive anti-freeze but please don’t use that, as it often includes anti-corrosive chemical additives and pH stabilisers which would definitely make it toxic and cause major skim problems.
For more info on glycerine/water solutions have a read of: http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_0032/0901b803800322ae.pdf?filepath=glycerine/pdfs/noreg/115-00663.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc
November 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm
David, you are awesome!
I very much like the idea of glycerine-water made as a gel. I will look in to this. This is preferred over the antifreeze mixture as antifreeze is poisonous so I need to be careful I don’t get it on surfaces used for food preparation etc.
I will update this blog with results. Thanks again.
February 9, 2014 at 11:59 pm
And now the big questions:
– are you still alive, in one piece and not too much frostbitten? 🙂
– does your device work in the battle against lovehandles?
– does cryolipolysis work in general?
– what’s the advantage in DYI over buying it somewhere online (except for all the fun ofcourse)
I was thinking about building something myself but I am wondering if it is worth it.
February 10, 2014 at 12:03 am
Yes, I am still alive! hehe.
I am sorry to report I have been a bad boy. I haven’t done any further testing and won’t be until mid February (which is when I get annual leave). Things have been too busy for me.
The initial runs look like they worked, but 3 months is a long time and I can’t tell if it is because of the machine or my diet/exercise. So I plan to run the machine a few more times on one side of my body only, this should give me a definitive answer. Sorry, but this means I should have an answer for everyone around mid May.
June 2, 2014 at 11:13 am
We’ll, June 1st and I’m very interested… Did it work? Pictures?
June 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Sorry about the delay in replying. I didn’t want to simply say, “yes it works” without any pictures.
So yes, it works. But not to the degree I was hoping for. The changes are slight and definitely back up Coolsculpting claim (and namesake) that it is for SCULPTING and not really weight loss (although it does that too).
My initial testing was many applications all over the torso. But it takes 3 months to notice any affects, and normally in that time it is near impossible to remain the same weight. I had actually PUT ON weight during those 3 months (quite a few kilos, unfortunately). So I decided to do another round of tests. This time I would sculpt only the left side of my torso and leave the right side untouched.
The way in which my Frankensculptor is designed makes it very difficult to place the machine on the love-handles without help. Because I did all testing on my own, I only placed the machine in a few spots around my belly (and not on the love-handles), the pictures reflect this.
3 months later you can see some changes! The pictures don’t really show too much, but the shadows are easily seen. NO RE-TOUCHING HAS BEEN DONE TO THE PICS!
I can definitely see a larger depression (and one that begins from higher up my chest) on the left side. I can also see my gut protruding a little more on the right side than the left.
Some additional changes have been made to the machine to assist in doing my love-handles. I hope to test a little more on the design and eventually come up with one that works without slipping off the fat (which this one was prone to do if you moved around too much).
February 5, 2017 at 8:42 am
And now, 2 years later, how does it look? Worth it?
February 5, 2017 at 9:59 am
It definitely worked. As part of my testing I used the device only on one side of my torso, so you could see one side had less fat than the other. It’s quite obvious when you look at the pictures that one side has less fat than the other.
I still need to find the time to even it all out though!
October 4, 2017 at 9:59 am
HELLO I AM NOT SURE MY MESSAGE GOT THRU – I LIVE IN NORWALK,CT. I JUST BOUGHT A COOL SCULPTING MACHINE FROM CHINA. I HAVE BEEN VERY HAPPY UNTILL TODAY – ONE SUCTION HANDLE ISN’T GOING ON, THE OTHER ONE WORKS FINE. IT IS PORTABLE I PAID $1,400. I THINK IT IS THE MOTOR THERE MUST BE TWO SMALL MOTORS INSIDE. I WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO LOOK AT IT SOMEHOW MAYBE EVEN IMPROVE ON IT BY MAKING IT COLDER. THE COMPUTER LETS IT GO TO – 10 C.
COLDER WOULD BE BETTER. COULD YOU HELP ME OUT? I HAVE ONLY HAD IT 6 WEEKS.
October 4, 2017 at 10:02 am
Sorry Roberta. I can’t help you with this. If it is only 6 weeks old then it would be best if you speak to the manufacturer about it.
June 27, 2018 at 2:02 pm
I would like to contact you, regarding Zeltiq machines. I am in Venezuela .
August 20, 2020 at 5:38 pm
hi, do you sell the zeltic machines?
September 10, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Nice hack !
what do you think of these devices :
Would that work ? Would you need two unit to sandwich the skin and reduce blood flow ?
September 20, 2019 at 10:47 am
You would definitely need to restrict the blood flow for this to work. It is easy to get a device to cool down, it is hard to bring your fat temperature down due to your blood flow.
If you could someone sandwich two machines together it may work but couldn’t tell without looking at the machines and seeing where the cold pads/parts are. I suspect the cold pads/parts are not right at the end of the device where most of the sandwiching would occur, so it may not work too well.
August 16, 2020 at 9:25 pm
I am in South Africa, i bought a Coolsculpting machine in China. The one handle keeps switching off when i switch it on. The warranty finished now thsi month even though i hardly used the machine. Are you able to perhaps assist? I am not getting any response from my supplier. I have already lost clients in two days.
November 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm
Thanks HackADay team! 🙂 You rock!