The Arles-based start-up Skincasts 3D prints wrist, elbow and ankle splints to replace traditional casts. Its innovation, already tested on several hundred people, was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently being held in Las Vegas. Skincasts is one of the 15 companies selected by the Southern Region to participate in this event, the scale of which has been considerably reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the Vr’tig.0 studio, also located in Arles in the Rhône, which takes care of the design of the splints. He defines himself as a “application production center in a virtual reality environment“and in particular is developing applications for the medical community.
A lighter, radiolucent splint
The advantages of the splints printed by Skincasts are numerous, according to Alain Chaix, leader of the young shoot, quoted by the specialized media 3dnatives. While traditional methods are “restrictive due in particular to maceration and odors“, the company’s products allow the patient”to go in the water and is adjustable, ventilated and light“. They are also radiolucent (not visible on the x-ray) and leave”great freedom to adjacent joints“.
Obviously, thanks to 3D printing, the splints are tailor-made. The manufacturing process begins with a scan of the traumatized body part. The file is then sent to Skincasts to be imported into CAD software to adjust the measurements. Printing of the object can then begin. The end-to-end process takes an average of 4 hours, according to the company. 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 corn starch, tapioca roots or sugar cane. Therefore, they are recyclable and biodegradable. An important argument in a context of growing consideration of environmental issues.
The splints are approved at 60% by the Health Insurance and the rest by the patient’s mutual health insurance. Skincasts hopes CES will allow them to find “technical, scientific and financial partnerships“in order to develop internationally, explained the CEO 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 2022 a printer dedicated to the manufacture of dental prostheses and implants. Medical establishments also see it as a great opportunity. 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.