When you broke an arm or leg back in the day, you’d end up with a bulky plaster cast. If nothing else, you could get your friends or kids to sign it or draw cartoons on it. Until the cast was removed, however, neither you nor your medical professional could see or know for sure what was going on under the cast. Also, they can also itch with no good way to scratch. Fiberglass casts are improvement in that they are lighter and not quite as hot as plaster casts, but you still can’t see the limb until the cast is removed.
3D printed casts are changing casts for broken limbs. Mediprint in Mexico is working on a product called Novacast, but Xkelet from Girona, Spain recently won an international design award for its Xkelet 3D casts technology. Xkelet isn’t yet on the market, but will soon be in trials for CE approval (the European Union version of the FDA). Xkelet casts have an open design for comfort, air flow, cleaning, and medical monitoring and treatment if needed. Both you and your doctor can observe the skin and any wounds. According to the company, the design is built around the structures and shapes of the limb to help with drainage and for maximum comfort.
Xkelet has an iPad accessory and software called Xkelet Scan Software (XKSS) that does a 3D scan of the broken limb. According to the company, their’s is the only portable 3D scanner. When the scan is completed, the software has not only length, width, and height measurements but also volume. The captured scan is sent to the Xkelet factory where the two-piece plastic cast is created, with delivery back to the physician promised within five days. The two parts of the cast are held together by rubber 0-Rings from JLOrings.com.
It sounds like if you break an arm or leg sometime in the near future you may have to wear a temporary cast for a few days, but then could have a much lighter, less obtrusive, and way more cooler open-lattice cast, available in your favorite color. The only issue will be that it doesn’t leave a space for your friends to sign it.