Cortex 3D-printed cast
by Jake Evill


3D-printed casts for fractured bones could replace the usual bulky, itchy and smelly plaster or fibreglass ones in this conceptual project by Victoria University of Wellington graduate Jake Evill.

The prototype Cortex cast is lightweight, ventilated, washable and thin enough to fit under a shirt sleeve.

Cortex 3D-printed cast for fractured bones by Jake Evill

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 fracture itself.

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. Unlike current casts, the materials could then be recycled.

Cortex 3D-printed cast for fractured bones by Jake Evill

"At the moment, 3D printing of the cast takes around three hours whereas a plaster cast is three to nine minutes, but requires 24-72 hours to be fully set," says the designer. "With the improvement of 3D printing, we could see a big reduction in the time it takes to print in the future."

He worked with the orthopaedic department of his university on the project and is now looking for backing to develop the idea further.

Cortex 3D-printed cast for fractured bones by Jake Evill

Jake Evill has just graduated from the Architecture and Design faculty at Victoria University of Wellington, with a Major in Media Design and a Minor in Industrial Design.

Read more about how 3D printing is transforming healthcare in an extract from our one-off publication Print Shift, including bespoke prothetic limbs and printed organs for transplants.

Here's some more information from Evill:

After many centuries of splints and cumbersome plaster casts that have been the itchy and smelly bane of millions of children, adults and the aged alike, the world over, we at last bring fracture support into the twenty-first century.

Cortex 3D-printed cast for fractured bones by Jake Evill
Click for larger image

The Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a highly technical and trauma-zone-localised support system that is fully ventilated, super light, shower friendly, hygienic, recyclable and stylish.

The Cortex cast utilises the x-ray and 3D scan of a patient with a fracture and generates a 3D model in relation to the point of fracture.

Cortex 3D-printed cast for fractured bones by Jake Evill
Click for larger image
  • Rami

    I am breaking my hand voluntarily if these are to be made.

  • eran

    How were the holes made? What CAD program was used?

    • michal

      Probably Rhino, and calculated by the voronoi pattern.

      • eran

        Thanks Michal. That opened a whole new field to me.

  • Tiago

    How does the hand enter the cast? Is it cut in two halves?

    • chinaimport

      That’s what I am asking myself too. This has to be printed in at least two parts. Let’s just print our entire lives with 3D printers, that’s the best.

    • Cyndi-Ann Roshuk

      Try reading the article. It clearly states how.

  • Greg

    Read the text and it will tell you how it goes on (hint – fourth paragraph).

  • LeftCoasting

    Seriously, talk about design over function. Swollen broke arm? Yeah now close your fist up tight, squeeze your fingers together. Stop with the screaming, I know it’s tight now but it’ll fit better once the swelling goes down.

    • RoastPinkie

      You didn’t read the article, did you? It says they scan the arm, and then the cast is made to the specifications.

    • Dan P.

      Yea, because contemporary casts are immune to this issue? Seriously, I’ve broken my arm twice, being able to shower and scratch during those 6-10 weeks would’ve been heaven.

  • Charlie Bing

    Brilliant, and like Rami said: very cool looking. But where would everyone get to sign their names and write good luck messages? Or has that all gone in the age of social media?

    • plugh

      Use a fine-point sharpie.

    • JulzGaye

      Your fans could simply write notes and stick them through the openings. A form of wailing wall just for you.

  • Daniel

    From the text in the article: “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. Unlike current casts, the materials could then be recycled.”

  • czto

    I’m sorry to disappoint you all, but that’s just 100% bullshit and is never going to happen!

    • Nimdae

      Stuff like this is already happening. Why would this be an exception?

  • Anyone that’s suffered an arm cast has to see the benefits of this solution. I would like to see it in practice.

  • -z-

    The wire hanger industry will suffer irreparably.

  • 3d printing is changing everything.

  • Andreas

    Agree with Rami.
    If this will become reality I will break my arm :)

  • Jed

    Everyone that is giving this design criticism probably hasn’t broken a bone before…

    • Rami

      I have broken my arms five times and I can only think of how useful this would be. Just imagine the tan marks after. Very sci-fi!

    • Hokey

      I seriously want one now! With the bone stimulator attachment! Wow if I had $$ to invest in this system… it’s the future!

  • ben

    “children, adults and the aged alike” – or “people”, as we sometimes call ourselves.

  • Gerry

    Just wait for a TSA inspector to decide that it’s not really a cast and demand that you take it off.

  • DavidTheDave

    Jake Evill should be given a doctorate and a 2 foot 6 inch research assistant.

  • NoName

    Check out what Neri Oxman has been up to:

  • stephan

    How do you put it on? Make two pieces and glue them?

  • bunnymayer

    I totally agree with the concept but it just doesn’t seem stable enough. Whereas a cast is form-fitted to the injured area, the cortex cast is fastened?

    • Josh

      But this is form fitted also. What do you think the 3D scan is for?

  • Mark Green

    Stunning piece of design, it seems very feasible. However the cast does not appear fit the model. Gaps below the wrist and over the fore arm. This would seem to raise questions about how close this is to becoming a workable product.

    Hope it proves to be a great success.

    • JudyRobertsHirtle

      There was another article that I read that says: “Evill’s current prototype is the product of a jerry-rigged 3D scanner that he hacked from an Xbox Kinect.”

      That’s why it isn’t a good fit. Using proper equipment will make it better.

  • Arizona Mildman

    When will this be available? I could use one now.

    • Hi Arizona Mildman,

      Oh no! I'm afraid it's a prototype student project at the moment but Evill is looking for partners to take the work further.


  • Tom

    Why is it not a normal grid? Does the honeycomb-style design have any reference to the function of the cast?

    • elfudge42

      Finer mesh at the higher stress points = more structure.

  • Matt

    This is just another ‘press one button’ voronoi project.

  • Audz

    So when in full production will the inventor be then known as Dr Evill?

  • Sarah Evill

    Didn’t know there were any other Evills in NZ.

  • orthopa


  • Jane

    This is great! Had to have my arm re-broken, because after they removed the cast the doctors realised it had healed very wrong. A cast like this would have prevented that.

  • Anonymous

    Holy trypophobia, Batman.

  • quirkdee

    Extremely old, that voronoi is not even slightly rational. If they did a stress test than applied this we would see the true beauty that this can be.

  • pedroagsa

    Where could I find this project’s information? It seems to be interesting.

  • pedroagsa

    Where can I find all the information (research) of this product. It seems to be an interesting lecture.

  • 2015, still no word on these. Typical “progress”.

    • JulzGaye

      I’ve been looking for an update also. Am anxious to know what’s happening with it and about the possibility of investing.

  • JulzGaye

    How would one invest in this?

  • Nice for ill patients!

  • MelissaDuffy

    Because I am a slime-mould and lichen enthusiast I immediately thought of the slime moulds I’ve seen when looking at this cast. Initially, I thought that the designer had consciously used bio-mimicry based on slime moulds in his design process, but apparently this was simply coincidence of morphologic similarity!

  • MelissaDuffy

    Here is the photo of the slime mould!

  • MelissaDuffy

    The last photo I sent didn’t show up so I am sending another one!

  • Paul John Bacalso

    I am from the Philippines, how can I avail or acquire the cast.