As it stands now when you break a bone, a technician wraps your limb in plaster – it’s cheap, moldable to your limb and hard to take off, which means you’re stuck in it until the doctor says its time to come off. But there are a lot of downsides to this system – you’ll ruin it if it gets wet and it can be really uncomfortable. Now technology has caught up to our futuristic predictions and 3D printing is at a stage now where it can be realistically applied to medial scenarios. Jake Evill saw the potential of 3D scanning and printing technologies to design a system to create customized, lightweight, comfortable casts.
The broken limb is first x-rayed like normal to determine where the break is located. Then the limb is 3D scanned to create a digital model of the limb and your data is imported and applied to the model. From there, software takes into account all your data to design a cast that fits you perfectly with more support near the break. Printed out of nylon in two piece, the cast is then placed around your limb and connected together with fasteners, which only the hospital can break open later.
The result is a cast that protects your limb while your bones are healing, but also allows your skin to breath and you to take a shower without worrying about ruining it. The slim profile allows you to wear all your normal clothes, put jackets on and even appear to be less awkward. Plus, the nylon is completely recyclable at the end of its life, which will save millions of casts from ending up in the landfill every year.