The only thing worse than breaking a bone is waiting for it to heal. During the healing process itself, wearing a fiberglass and plaster cast can be a stinky, itchy endeavor that is uncomfortable and inconvenient; all for an injury that is completely internal. Enter Jake Evill's Cortex concept. Beyond having an awesome last name, Jake Evill, a media design graduate of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, has managed to modernize the ancient concept of a splint using 3D printing technology.

Utilizing X-ray technology, paired with 3D printing and scanning, the Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a fully-ventilated structure to heal broken bones. The system uses the scanning technologies to provide a "trauma zone localized" support structure. This scanning technique, combined with a software system, would create the optimum bespoke structure that allows denser support to be focused around the fracture.

The structure would then be 3D printed, providing an ultra-light, recyclable, and (probably most importantly) shower-friendly cast. Though a plaster or fiberglass cast would take tens of minutes to create and a 3D-printed cast of this caliber would take a few hours to print, the customization, convenience, and intuitive flexibility of Evill's design can't be denied.

The concept would be ready-to-fit directly off of the 3D printer, with built-in fasteners added for the final enclosure. These fasteners would then be removed by a special tool when healing is complete.

Because of the incredibly tight structure and customized fitting, the Cortex would fit under clothing much easier than traditional casts. The open-latticed structure also provides the ability to feel surroundings, so the casted area is significantly less clumsy. It also provides easy access for scratching those inevitable itches, so wearers could ditch the rulers or skewers that are commonly employed to deal with such annoyances.

Though his design is only a concept at the moment, the obvious applications and comfortable convenience of the Cortex suggest it could make the jump to real-world product in the future.

Source: Jake Evill