Arles-based start-up Skincasts 3D-prints wrist, elbow and ankle splints to replace traditional casts. Its innovation, already tested by several hundred people, was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently taking place in Las Vegas. Skincasts is one of the 15 companies selected by the Southern Region to participate in this event, whose scale has been considerably reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the Vr’tig.0 studio, also located in Arles on the Rhône, that is in charge of the design of the splints. It defines itself as an “application production center in a virtual reality environment” and, in particular, develops applications for the medical sector.
A lighter radiolucent splint
The advantages of splints printed by Skincasts are numerous, according to Alain Chaix, leader of the young shoot, cited by the specialized medium 3dnatives. While traditional methods are “restrictive due in particular to maceration and odors,” the company’s products allow the patient “to enter the water and are adjustable, ventilated and lightweight.” They are also radiolucent (not visible on radiography) and leave “great freedom for the adjacent joints.”
Obviously, thanks to 3D printing, the splints are made to measure. The manufacturing process begins with a scan of the traumatized body part. The file is then sent to Skincasts for import into CAD software to adjust measurements. Then the printing of the object can begin. The process from start to finish takes an average of 4 hours, according to the company. The duration may vary depending on the size of the splint.
Recyclable and biodegradable
The splints are made of PLA (or polylactic acid), a thermoplastic made from renewable resources such as cornstarch, tapioca roots or sugar cane. Therefore, they are recyclable and biodegradable. An important argument in a context of increasing consideration of environmental issues.
The splints are approved in 60% by the Health Insurance and the rest by the mutual health of the patient. Skincasts hopes that the CES will allow it to find “technical, scientific and financial associations” to develop internationally, explained the general director to the Marseille media Gomet. He hopes to conquer North America in particular.
3D printing, an asset in health
The contribution of additive manufacturing to health is well established. It is also a sector that interests many companies specializing in 3D printing. Stratasys thus launched in March 2021 a printing company dedicated to the manufacture of dental prostheses and implants. Medical establishments also see it as a great opportunity. The Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) has acquired a fleet of 3D printers to overcome the shortage of medical equipment during the first wave of Covid-19.
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