If you’ve ever broken a bone, you know firsthand just how horrible traditional casts are. Hell, even if you haven’t broken a bone, you still probably have a decent idea of how awful casts are, assuming you’ve been within smelling distance of anyone who’s wearing one. After about a week they start to smell like a rotting hog carcass that’s been baking in the sun for three days, and often get itchier than a poison oak rash — but thankfully technology might soon make them obsolete.
3D-printed casnthey’re not widely available yet,Turkish student Deniz Karasahin has already taken the idea a step further. winner of the 2014 Golden A’Design Award, Karasahin’s Osteoid cast prototype uses tiny ultrasonic vibrations to speed up bone healing time by up to 40 percent.
The bone healing capabilities of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) have been known for decades, but the treatment is difficult to administer because it requires ultrasound leads to be placed on the skin, directly over the injured area of the bone. With traditional plaster casts this is basically impossible, but a 3D-printed cast that leaves patches of skin open would make it easy. Osteoid’s simple, skeletal design allows ultrasonic drivers to be built directly into the cast.
It’s still just a design prototype at this point, but given the rapid pace at which 3D scanning and printing technologies are progressing, we wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing these kinds of casts adorning the arms of reckless people all over the globe within the next year or two.