3D printers are a hot concept these days, and they are triggering all sorts of exciting projects in many fields, from arts to architecture. Some of the most interesting projects are in the WellTech arena. For example, the winner of the 3D Printed Forms and Products Design Award for 2013-2014 in the A’Design Award and Competition was a printed cast design by DK Design, based in Paris, France and Izmir, Turkey. The designer, Deniz Karasahin, wanted to create a lightweight but strong cast for broken bones that could speed the healing process.
The result is the Osteoid cast. The open structure provides ventilation to help keep the limb cool and dry during the healing process. It can be custom-printed to precisely fit the individual patient. And it is waterproof, which imposes fewer limitations on a patient’s activities.
The most intriguing feature, however, is the addition of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS). According to published research, LIPUS can help speed the mending of broken bones, saving a month or more. The Osteoid cast allows LIPUS transducers to be installed directly in contact with the patient’s skin, right over the area of the break, using the many openings that are part of the cast’s design.
As a result, patients can have a cast that is lightweight and easier to wear, while also supporting new treatment technology that speeds the healing. I expect to see even more 3D printing projects that are designed to help individuals with WellTech applications.