Kiwi designer creates 3D-printed exoskeleton for broken bones

Computer software determines the optimum bespoke shape for the exoskeleton, with denser support focused around the fracture itself.
Computer software determines the optimum bespoke shape for the exoskeleton, with denser support focused around the fracture itself.

Itchy, odorous plaster casts could be banished to the realms of childhood memory thanks to a Kiwi design students's radical concept for a 3D-printed exoskeletal cast.

The lightweight Cortex cast is designed to be ventilated and washable, making it more comfortable and convenient than traditional casts which need to be kept dry and quickly become sweaty and smelly.

It was designed by Victoria University media and industrial design graduate Jake Evill, who worked with the university's orthopaedic department to develop the concept.

On his website, Mr Evill explained how the customised cast used data from both an X-ray and a 3D scan of the patient's fracture area.

The data is used to create a 3D model, which is then transformed into a lightweight but durable cast using a 3D printer. The cast is printed ready-to-fit and snaps closed with built-in fasteners.

The cast is ventilated and washable thanks to its spiderweb-like membrane structure.

However, Mr Evill said it was still extremely strong, as the design was optimised to provide the most support at the point of fracture, while still supporting the whole arm.

On his website, Mr Evill said the cast would bring fracture support into the 21st century "after many centuries of splints and cumbersome plaster casts that have been the itchy and smelly bane of millions of children, adults and the aged alike''.

"The Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a highly technical and trauma zone localised support system that is fully ventilated, super light, shower friendly, hygienic, recyclable and stylish.''

Mr Evill said the cast was compact enough to wear under a shirt and suit jacket, unlike traditional casts.

He is reportedly looking for backing to develop the concept further.

- APNZ

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