Those who are unfortunate enough to fracture a limb but
fortunate enough to do so after the advent of the 3d Printing technology can
rejoice. Jake Evill, an Architecture and Design school at Victoria University
of Wellington alum and Shapeways user, devised an ingenious alternative to the
classic plaster of paris cast, one day effectively making the smelly,
cumbersome monolithic a thing of the past.
"Cortex" differs from traditional orthopedic
braces by first 3D Scanning the broken limb, reconstructing it into a 3D model,
and algorithmically flowing a biomorhpic lattice support structure onto the
surface. The digital file is then send to a 3D printer. The product is a robust
and stylish custom cast made from sintered Nylon. Parts are snapped together to
create a snug, perfect fit, and the open, ventilated membrane allows the wearer
to scratch a bothersome itch or run the structure underwater without fear of
turning your cast into bacterial playground.
Jake Evill's invention marks one of the many recent 3D
printed contributions towards the democratization of the health care industry.
Never before has it been so cost-effective to create a customized brace, and
Evill hopes to make the process that much easier by modeling each cast
algorithmically and automatically. What other ways can 3D printing transform
the medical industry?
Probably a three-digit figure. Also the personnel, time and equipment needed are
probably not comparable to an apprentice nurse slapping on a few plaster bandages. So perhaps something for the boy with osteogenesis imperfecta
featured in the other recent blog entry, or some famous athlete or singer, but
not your average guy who slipped on the stairs. (And I do not buy the nylon-is-so-much-more-eco-friendly argument either)
Well, you can re-melt a lot of the materials used in 3D printing and reprint with them/use them in other applications. While a cast is likely biodegradable, you'll just toss it when you're done. I guess there's the eco-friendly argument. But... yeah, it would probably just end up being an excuse for docs to charge you more, haha. But by all means if it makes things cheaper...
You know what the very BEST thing is about this sort of "geek forward" movement and momentum? The geekification of everyday life. I'm a geek - an old geek - and I know a lot of geeks and there is one thing, specifically, that ALL geeks have in common and that is their love of FUN and putting piles of fun into otherwise droll places!!
The ready availability of all of the technology that lets all of that geek fun out into the light is like a DREAM!! It's just plain AWESOME.
I tip my hat to all of the young geeks who are not allowing the ridiculous and often petty "seriousness" of society deter them from having some open, in-your-face fun! Fun is serious business in geekdom. Fun in life and technology is where those FANTASTIC inspirations come from and what makes these technologies soar!
A thousand kisses to Shapeways and to all of my other fellow geeks! (it's OK, I'm a girl-geek and probably old enough to be most geeks' grandmother!)
It's not cheaper.... yet. The whole idea is that this technology has two places to go: cheaper and more mainstream. Eventually, not only will this be cheaper than a conventional cast, but a nurse will be able to print one with the same ease she 'slaps plaster on a limb' now.
Looking at it I'm thinking maybe there is a middle ground between plaster and this net effect. What if spacers were stuck onto the arm before plastering.The plaster goes around the arm but the spacers provide holes. Once the plaster has set, remove the spacers and you're left with holes. Maybe rings of metal or stiff plastic are left around the spacers for structural support and to aid removal of the spacers.