Friday, 05 Jul, 2013 Technology
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Latest Invention: Cortex Cast - New-Gen 3-D Printed Cast to Help Heal Broken Bones?

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Those who at least once had a broken limb know how wearing a cast can be unpleasant. Not only are they bulky, they're also uncomfortable.

The same problem has been with Jake Evill, who once broke his hand while trying to resuce his friend in a fight.

The graduate of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, has worn a plaster cast several months and it was extremely uncomfortable for him. He decided to do something about it.

While searching for an alternative he didn't managed to find one and come up with the idea of making his own cast. Evill named his creation Cortex cast.

To make the cast, the designer used a 3D printer. The 3D-printed brace is comfortable to wear due to the fact that it follows the shapes of the arm.

Despite the fact that this is just a concept, Cortex represents an injury-localized exoskeleton that is not only comfy, but also extremely lightweight, washable, ventilated and even recyclable.

Evill started by studying the structure of the human bone. He was inspired by the trabecular, which are small lattice-shaped structures that make up the inner tissue of a bone.

His idea is that patients with fractured bones can be x-rayed and the injured limb 3D-scanned. Afterwards the computer would identify the optimal pattern and design of the cast, with tougher material used for the fractured area of the bone to offer more support.

The current prototype was created with the help of a jerry-rigged 3D scanner that Evill managed to hack from an Xbox Kinect.

To be able to read the area, the designer manually rotated the makeshift scanner around his arm. This meant that the scanned shape required some touch ups in a software such as Zbrush.

Then the cast was dispatched to Shapeways in the Netherlands, where it was printed in nylon plastic.

The outcome is a 3 millimeters-thick plastic cast that weights only 500 grams. Next the designer looks forward to working on the optimal material for the cast and improvement of the scanning process.

Then he plans to work with a hospital in order to carry out trials of the prototype. Finally, if everything goes well, Evill will search for a manufacturer able to help him make the Cortex Cast.

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