Researchers Create 3D-Printed Medical Device to Replace Traditional Plaster Casts

A team of graduates from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) have created a Mexican startup, Mediprint, which specializes in using 3D-printing devices to manufacture medical devices to measure.

Black NovaCast

Their aim is to resolve issues related to the use of conventional plaster splints used in bone rehabilitation, including ulcers, infections, and amputation of limbs. These issues occur as doctors were not able to inspect the area easily, there was an accumulation of sweat, and limited ventilation. Mediprint's main product is the NovaCast, which prevents infections as it is ten times lighter than the conventional material and offers better ventilation.

The material that conventional splints are made of is a highly hygroscopic plaster, meaning it absorbs sweat and causes the bacteria to proliferate because there is no ventilation.

Zaid Musa Badwan, Founder, Mediprint

NovaCast is patented, and made using 3D printing. In addition to being very light, it is removable, aesthetic and can be customized. The user can even bathe with it on.

The project started when my mom had an accident and broke her left hand, doctors gave her a bad splint and later had to surgically fracture her to correct it, but again they wrongly placed the cast, so they diagnosed her with a 50 percent disability in her hand.

Zaid Musa Badwan, Founder, Mediprint

There are cases where amputations are necessary when the plaster is misused and bacteria grows in it, explained Badwan. Also, if not placed properly the bones will not weld well and can result in permanent mobility issues.

Badwan produced a software which enables the measurements of the medical device to be made without a 3D scan.

It only requires that the doctor enters the data and automatically generates the ideal geometry for the print.

Zaid Musa Badwan, Founder, Mediprint

This will enable the specialist to attend to other patients while the device is printed.

Depending on the size of a person, it is possible to create a new NovaCast in about three and a half hours

We are doing research and development to reduce that time to just one hour. The next step is to take the technology to hospitals and increase the number of 3D printers, so the health centers can obtain surgical tool, custom templates or anatomical teaching models that replace the use of corpses.

Zaid Musa Badwan, Founder, Mediprint

Andrés Souza, Carlos Hansen, Ulises Martínez and Nahme Pineda from MediPrint also participated in this research. The startup received first place in the Entrepreneurs (SEFI-UNAM) and StartUP Expo EmprendeTown (Mexico City’s government and Mexican-Lebanese Business Chamber) contests. It also won the UNITEC Award and was the finalist in the category of Biotechnology and Health of the Foundation Everis Madrid Award, an international competition for entrepreneurs.

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