3D printing wrist splints

Loughborough University lecturer Dr. Abby Paterson has developed an innovative app that will allow clinicians to easily design and manufacture a new generation of custom-made 3D printed wrist splints.

According to 3DERS, the next-gen splints are more comfortable, attractive and affordable than current options.

“I wanted to give clinicians the ability to make splints that they have not been able to make before,” said Paterson. “They can improve the aesthetics, the fit, and integrate extra bits of functionality they couldn’t do before.”

As Paterson notes, the splints, which provide joint protection, rest, and promote pain relief, could be a major boost for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Bibb, who supervised Paterson’s PhD, said he believes the new splints will be cost-effective.

“We are in the development phase. The research has proved that this is desirable and the clinicians want it. We know there’s lots of potential.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, 3D printing technology – projected to be a $3 billion business by 2016 – is rapidly evolving, particularly in the medical space. Indeed, 3D printed orthopedic implants were recently fitted in Peking’s University Third Hospital in Beijing, while doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan successfully transplanted 3D printed bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation.

Similarly, 3D printing tech helped doctors at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University repair a patient’s damaged skull in China, while researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology used 3D printing technology to create living human kidneys. In September, scientists at Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS (UK) Trust announced the development of an electronic smart pump to help victims of chronic heart failure.

Of course, the DIY Maker Movement has been using Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing has clearly entered a new and important stage in a number of spaces including the medical spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield.

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