Design for a 3D-printed cast has been dubbed one of the finalists for the 2013 James Dyson Award. The cast, called the Cortex Exoskeleton and designed by Jake Evill, is meant to be more flexible and convenient than traditional orthopedic plaster casts. The technology aims at providing more structured support for broken limbs while also remaining lighter and more durable than currently used casts made of plaster or polyurethane.
Traditional casts are generally problematic in that they are susceptible to water, so wearers have trouble bathing, which can lead to hygiene issues. Such casts are also itchy, uncomfortable and inconvenient.
The Cortex Exoskeleton would be created using 3D printing technology to ensure that it fits well over a broken limb, with an extra membrane structure around the point of injury. Newly printed Cortex casts would be left unfastened so that it can snaps shut around the affected limb. The waterproof nature of the material and its design allows washing to be possible without taking the cast off. It is also thin enough for clothing to fit over it.
According to Evill, his design addresses the growing issue of medical waste and a rising number of fractures and breaks.