If two designers come up with the same idea independently of each other, something must be in the air. So in this post we might very well be looking at the future of treating broken bones. It’s out with those heavy, itchy, dirty plaster casts and in with nice, lightweight, tailor-made exoskeletons from a 3D-printer.

Both Jake Evill, a graduate from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and Lithuanian Gintare Cerniauskaite, a graduate from Design Academy Eindhoven, came up with the idea of using a 3D-printer to produce open, lightweight and waterproof casts.

Evill got the idea after he broke his hand and experienced the discomfort of the classic plaster cast he had to carry around for several months. His solution, and graduation project, is Cortex Cast, a plastic cast produced on the basis of an x-ray and 3D scan of the fracture and limb of the patient. The cast can be formed so that it gives most support at the trauma zone. As Evill describes it, the Cortex is fully ventilated, extremely light, shower friendly, hygienic, recyclable and, not unimportant at all, stylish.

Cerniauskaite’s design might be a little less of a style thing, but it still looks much better than the whopper of plaster patients normally have to drag around. Called EXO, this open cast allows further treatment, like physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage, or mineral baths, to start immediately. This significantly shortens the healing time, and prevents post-traumatic complications such as muscle atrophy or joint contracture, Cerniauskaite claims. And she did think of looks too: the casts can be personalized by automatically adding a chosen pattern and a colour.