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September 9, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Cast Your Eye on This

A Victoria graduate has brought sci-fi to life, designing a futuristic cast which could revolutionise how broken bones are treated.

Jake Evill recently won the national branch of the prestigious James Dyson Award, making it through to the award’s international round and receiving $3000 to travel to London to show his design at the London Design Festival.

Called the Cortex cast, the revolutionary design uses a 3D-printed honeycomb structure that can be digitally tailored to follow the contours of the body and support each patient’s specific needs. Unlike traditional plaster casts, Evill’s design is inexpensive, washable, recyclable, shower-friendly, lightweight, and able to be hidden under clothing.

David Lovegrove, Fellow and professional member of the Designers Institute and the award’s head judge said Cortex was victorious because of “its global reach in improving many people’s lives” and its potential to “change the way broken bones are treated in the future”.

The cast has reportedly already piqued interest from orthopaedic surgeons in Europe and the US, and has received praise from the design community the world over. In June and July, Evill’s design was published on a number of influential design blogs garnering tens of thousands of shares and views online and on social media.

Evill designed Cortex for a project in a third-year Industrial Design class after breaking his hand and spending months with a bulky plaster cast.

 “I was surprised by just how non-user-friendly those cumbersome things are,” said Evill.

 “Wrapping an arm in two kilos of clunky, and soon to be smelly and itchy, plaster in this day and age seemed somewhat archaic to me.”

So, he set out to design something better. He was inspired by the honeycomb structure, because the shape is both strong and light like the bone it is protecting, and, “as usual, nature has the best answers”.

Evill’s lecturer Ross Stevens said Cortex is a brilliant example of the potential of 3D printing. 3D printing “makes products more like the way nature does”.

“Nature makes things out of cells, layer by layer; 3D printing does the same,” said Stevens.

Stevens also commended the quality of the product, despite its cheap manufacturing costs, and said it could technically be ready for the market in a couple of years were it not a medical product. Medical products require significant medical trials to make sure they do not cause any problems.

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