Swapping plaster casts for 3D printing

NovaCast is a device that prevents infections, ulcers and even amputation of limbs, is ten times lighter than the traditional material and allows a good ventilation.

The use of plaster splints for the rehabilitation of bones can cause infections, ulcers and even amputations because their shape prevents proper medical inspection, sweat accumulates and generates little ventilation. To avoid these problems, a group of young graduates from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) created Mediprint, a Mexican startup that manufactures this medical devices to measure, using 3D printing devices.

“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,” said Zaid Musa Badwan, graduated from the engineering career in mechatronics at the Faculty of Engineering of UNAM and founder of Mediprint.

The main product is called NovaCast, which already has patent, it is an artifact made with 3D printing, replacing the traditional cast. It has the advantage of being ten times lighter, removable, aesthetic and can be personalized, it even allows patients to bathe wearing it.

“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,” said Zaid Badwan.

He explained that there are cases of people who need amputations because of the misuse of the plaster and of the bacteria that grow in it. Also, if it is misplaced, the bone does not weld well and permanently affects mobility.

In addition, the engineer designed a software that allows to define the precise measures needed for the medical device without the need to make a 3D scan, “It only requires that the doctor enters the data and automatically generates the ideal geometry for the print “, this way the specialist can attend to other patients while the device is printed.

A new NovaCast is obtained in an average of three and a half hours depending on the size of the person. “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”.

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