If you’ve ever had a broken bone, you know the experience of wearing a cast can be a bit uncomfortable. They’re heavy, itchy and can emit a fairly unpleasant odor and cumbersome as you cannot get them wet. Traditional fiberglass cast were a necessary discomfort, but with many advancements in technology, maybe it’s time for the cast to get an upgrade.
Enter Jake Evill, a Victoria University of Wellington graduate who designed The Cortex cast, a 3-D printed mesh structure to replace the traditional plaster or fiberglass cast.
Evill’s prototype is lighter than traditional casts, allows full ventilation, is washable and compact enough to comfortably fit under a shirt sleeve.
The process, which involves 3D scanning of the patient’s fracture and computer software analysis, allows for in-depth structural customization, where areas around the fracture can be strengthened, making the cast lightweight yet very strong. It could potentially also prove to be a faster alternative.
At the moment, 3D printing of the cast takes around three hours whereas a plaster cast is three to nine minutes, but requires 24-72 hours to be fully set,” says the designer. “With the improvement of 3D printing, we could see a big reduction in the time it takes to print in the future.
As an added bonus, due to the nature of 3D printing materials, the cast materials could be recycled.
Evill’s idea is just one of the many ways new technologies such as 3D printing, are changing industries like Healthcare for the betterment of Humankind.