3d printed casts for a better future

Jake Evill is hoping that someday 3D printed casts will replace the bulky, stinky plaster casts we are all familiar with. De Zeen shares the story… A patient would have the bones x-rayed and the outside of the limb 3D-scanned. Computer software would then determine the optimum bespoke shape, with denser support focussed around the… READ THE REST

Should be comparing it to a fiberglass cast over gortex lining rather than old school plaster. That said this would probably be amazing for certain applications.
Edit: perhaps I should say compare to both since plaster also has its advantages.
Also this new comment system does not play nice with my iPhone. I will have play around with it and see if it is me.


Looks cool. What about aircasts? Last time I had a break they fitted me with a cast that was basically a big balloon. Perhaps that wouldn’t work on some major bone though.


so you’re going to wait in horrible agony while the cast is getting printed?

Um… No. I would imagine they would first have to set the break, if needed, and then they would put you in a splint or other device while printing the cast. What do you think people do while waiting for plaster casts? It’s not as if they just instantly appear on your arm…

Neri Oxman at MIT has done some great work in this area… biomimetic design.

Here’s her prototype 3d-printed flexible cast for carpal tunnel:


And an overview of some of her other designs:


How would you put it on? The benefit of both plaster of paris and modern epoxy casts is you can build them on the person in question’s broken limb and do so quite quickly. I’m not sure how a 3d printed cast could better that.

That would be great for the skin. It would allow it to breath and stay dry.

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Beware of someone designing casts whose degree is in “media design” and not orthopedics.


Someone needs to take the word “Bespoke” out of their description and poke them in the eye with it.

(I do feel a little more comfortable saying that here than in the main page.)


The polyamide pieces would be printed on-site and clip into place with fastenings that can’t be undone until the healing process is complete, when they would be taken off with tools at the hospital as normal.

The aesthetic benefit implied in the photos here would be pretty broken by the need to print the thing in halves and then clip the two halves together over the limb.

That may be the dumbest possible objection to this bit of innovation, but it’s the first thing I thought.

That’s right… BESPOKE, bitches!

You seem to have casts confused with painkillers. All a cast does is keep you from accidentally jostling or re-breaking the healing bone. It doesn’t stop the pain.

Yeah, I got one of those fiberglass casts when I broke my wrist 10 years ago. It was amazing: completely waterproof, so I could shower with it and sluice water through the cast to wash my arm. I’ve never seen another before or since. I have no idea why.

Why not “bespoke” for something that is literally custom-tailored to the individual? Designers are as entitled to their jargon as any other field.

I’ve given it some more thought and here is what I have concluded: being mannered is OK, but doing it badly is a double failure. ‘Bespoke’ in this context seems forced. The word is used by tailors speaking to customers of a certain class. It means much more than ‘custom’. As a word it is dripping with privilege and class assumptions. It means I will touch your private bits to measure you and not so much as a twitch of a smile will cross my face. It would be more appropriate and better marketing to say the cast is built from a direct scan of your body part and will fit precisely and comfortably and look attractive while doing so.


Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. In the context of healthcare it’s doubly tasteless, given the ‘bespoke’ treatment the moneyed classes already receive.

I’m used to seeing the word in the context of 3D design, so it didn’t appear out of place–and ain’t that the definition of privilege right there!

No more buttered scones for me, Mater. I’m off to play the grand piano.

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I think the cast is a beautiful thing and might actually be practical if it came in a range of sizes and was somehow shrunk to fit on the spot obviating the need for a wait for printing and getting the thing into place.

Now that I think of it, maybe it could be printed in place by a crawling robot that knows exactly how and when to apply pressure to straighten the limb.


That said, i would totally head out and break my arm if i could get one of these bad boys.