Since hitting the mainstream, 3D printing has taken a firm foothold in the world of medicine. From skulls to teeth and spinal discs, the ability to quickly purpose-print a new body part is an impressive bit of medical tech, saving both time and cost for those who receive them. As for faster, better healing of injuries, as a new 3D printed cast could offer — well, that's a new trick altogether.
The idea is that, by tailoring a 3D-printed cast to leave the space directly above an injured bone open, doctors could then fit them with ultrasonic devices that would speed the healing process. Ultrasound devices aren't a new concept in the healing of bones, but traditional plaster casts aren't very compatible with them. By precisely positioning the ultrasonic pulse generators over the damaged bones, 3D-printed casts provide the best healing available, even when you're out and about.
A washable cast with open spaces also means that you're not going to stink like week-old roadkill two days into your treatment. With daily 20-minute ultrasound treatments, broken bones could be healed 38 to 80 percent quicker, depending on the injury. That's a whole heck of a lot of improvement, so we're very hopeful that ultrasonic 3D printed casts make it out of the prototype phase soon.