It usually goes like this. You break your arm. You get a big plaster cast. Your friends sign it and draw on it. You invest in chopsticks in an attempt to get at the never-ending itches hiding beneath. Designer Jake Evill has a better idea. His Cortex exoskeletal cast concept uses 3D printing to create a custom cast that is strong, lightweight, and full of sweet, sweet air holes.
"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 world over, we at last bring fracture support into the 21st century," writes Evill, who just graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
The concept would work by having the patient's arm (wrist, leg, or whatever) X-rayed and 3D-scanned. Each cast would be individualized to provide more support at the site of the injury. The whole thing looks a bit like a futuristic lace pattern. A tighter "grain" of holes goes over the injury site for more protection.
The idea is pretty nifty, but what's really attractive are the plentiful air holes, giving the wearer endless opportunities to easily scratch the inevitable itches. The Cortex would also hold up to showering and be fully recyclable once removed.
The cast is just a concept at this point, but considering how the medical world has embraced the use of 3D printers, it may not be too far off from becoming reality.