Sep 10, 2014 | By Alec

We've already known for a while that 3D printing can produce some very cool-looking printed casts for anyone with a broken limb. Check out, for instance, our earlier reports on the 3D printed Osteoid Medical Cast and the Cortex Cast. Not only are these casts far more aesthetically pleasing, they are also far less bulky and uncomfortable. Moreover, 3D printed casts are designed to be ventilated and washable, making a broken limb far less of an invasive ordeal. All in all, these 3D printed casts are superior to the old plaster monstrosities in every aspect, but one: your friends and family can't cover them with comforting remarks and silly drawings.

Anyone missing that should definitely check out the #CAST, a fully customizable cast that lathers your broken limb in a juicy sauce of social media. The #CAST (pronounced 'Hash Cast') has been developed by the industrial design team over at FATHOM, an Oakland, California-based company that offers 3D printing services. They've developed an original and fun way to 'customize your broken arm cast with personal messages aggregated from your family and friends through social media'.

As industrial designer Ava DeCapri explained on the FATHOM website, the entire cast consists of messages sent by friends and family, which users can personally select through their very own mobile app:

Using the #CAST mobile app, users can approve or reject personalized messages collected through their preferred social networks. Once the maximum amount of characters allowed are approved by the user, a custom fit design is generated and built then delivered to their medical facility and fitted on the user by a specialist.

It was developed out of the desire to combine the pioneering 3D casts made by others with the personal touch that traditional casts held. ' It's classic to see personalized notes written in marker on a traditional cast. That's when we realized a big part of the user experience was missing. We asked ourselves, how else could 3D printing uniquely aid in elevating a user's experience?'

The idea is that patients' arms can be scanned in the doctor's office using RHINO CAD software, after which the cast will be made in a breathable nylon material using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology.

This was quite a challenge to realize, as the supportive structure needed to remain strong enough regardless of the personal choices made by the patients. Especially the break point needs proper support. The design team over at FATHOM therefore developed a method of using panelling tools and control points based on the break point to determine the exact supportive structure. 'This method worked well, as we were able to create denser letter groupings around the break, where more support was needed and airier sections where support was less crucial.'

I wrote 'the idea is', because this very cool #CAST is just a one-of-a-kind construction for now. As DeCapri explained, the model seen in the pictures was developed as an opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities of FATHOM's current tools and expertise. But rest assured, as she went on to say that: 'But could a private physician work with FATHOM today on making this available for their clients? Yes.'

This cool project will therefore have to remain an illustration of the customizable and personal potential that 3D printing holds. We can only hope it will be made available everywhere as soon as possible.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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