A media student from New Zealand has designed a 3D printed an exoskeletal cast that could eventually replace traditional casts made from plaster or fiberglass.
Jake Evill, a media design graduate from Victoria University in New Zealand, worked with the orthopaedic department of his university to use 3D printing to create a cast which overcomes the limitations of traditional casts. They came up with the Cortex which is lightweight, washable, breathable and can be worn underneath sleeves.
Traditional casts are bulky, annoying to wear, become itchy as the arm can’t be washed, heavy and cumbersome, and difficult to remove once the fracture has healed. The Cortex is better in every respect, bar one. It takes longer to produce as the patients arm has to be 3D scanned and then the custom exoskeleton has to be 3D printed.
“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 Jake Evill.
Before printing special computer software calculates the optimum lattice structure that fits the patient, with denser support around the patient’s fractured bone. After the Cortex is printed in nylon material it is ready to be worn, and has one side open for access with built-in clip fasteners that keep it in position around the fractured limb.