3D printing is widely being used in the medical industry in various sectors. ActivArmor is also a company based in Colorado that makes customized casts using rapid prototyping technology for the perfect fit for every patient. This method also makes the casts more affordable and water-safe.
The technology of 3D printers are rapidly becoming popular because of its affordability, versatility and effectiveness and how it can be used to make customized devices, shoes, replicas and so much more. Diana Hall is the CEO of ActivArmor and has recently revealed her interest in 3D printers.
Diana Hall was originally a chemical engineer by profession and was present in a mentoring program for underprivileged children. During these times she had come across numerous children with splints and casts but had noticed one thing. That these children could not keep the casts dry and clean as prescribed. Upon an incident where a child was scarred permanently because of a wet cast Hall had taken the decision to solve such problems and to come up with better ways of treating limb injuries.
Hence ActivArmor became a company to specialize in breathable yet water resistant casts, that are developed and customized to meet every person’s individual needs, and it is all done with the help of rapid prototyping using 3D printers. ActivArmor produces devices that are personally fitted for each patient, so it remains comfortable. All the while the mesh-like structure makes it breathable, and since t is made from plastic the cast remains waterproof.
Frist of all 3D scanning is used to get a precise picture of the person’s injured body part, and after that, the plastic cast is made. The whole scan takes about 30seconds or so and is performed by a team of trained professionals at the scanning clinic. Once the scan is complete the scan and the instructions are sent to ActivArmor for the design, fabrications, and finishing. The patient has to wait for a few days in their old cast until their new waterproof version is manufactured.
Each and every device at ActivArmor is created from a thermosetting plastic at high temperatures, which eventually gives both the patients and professionals a lot of freedom in comparison to traditional casts. Doctors can upon need free or immobilize certain areas of the body, as well as the device itself, can be removed too because of its patent-pending closing mechanism. These devices have all been registered with the FDA and are also covered by insurance providers.
Even though the end-use casts are not manufactured using 3D printers, the technology of rapid prototyping has played a huge role in its development. According to Hall, ActivArmor uses a bunch of different printers for the development and rapid prototyping, such as the Fusion3 F306, or bigger printers depending on the exoskeletons designs they are working on.
Hall also mentioned that the products of ActivArmor are suitable for a wide range of patients, ranging from athletes to children to the elderly. Athletes especially love the idea and the casts of ActivArmor because of their breathability, water resistance which allows them to take baths while wearing the cast, but most importantly the flexibility they need being athletes which regular casts could not provide. This also makes the parents happy because they do not have to worry as much of the kids getting their casts wet or dirty. ActivArmor makes casts for al sorts of injuries from fractures to dislocations, ligament injuries, Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis to Peripheral nerve injuries.
Other than simply being a satisfaction to patients, ActivArmor has also been popular with physicians. Because of its water resisting properties and low-irritation the need for recasting has decreased, while the fitting processes are always taken care of by ActivArmor itself. All these gave the physicians a time off and more time to concentrate on other matters. Before officially getting a cast from ActivArmor, the patient has to be prescribed to it by a doctor, and surprisingly enough the cost for the entire scanning and fitting procedure is in the same range as a traditional cast.
Currently, this option is only available ta Colorado where ActivArmor is based, but soon a massive expansion will take place all over the United States so that the whole nation can benefit from this patient-specific 3D scanned medical devices. After getting positive feedback from patients and doctors Hall has decided to kick this project up a notch both technologically and geographically.
Hall also said that the field test that took place in hospitals and clinics in Colorado have received an amazing response from the people who were more than satisfied because of the technology’s freedom and lesser skin irritations. If the technology of 3D printers and rapid prototyping is harnessed, ActivArmor can eventually become one of the largest technology-focused plus medical device companies in the United States.
ActivArmor is suitable for:
• Thumb Fractures/Dislocations
• Scaphoid Fractures Wrist/Thumb Tendonitis (e.g. Dequervain’s tenosynovitis)
• Thumb MP Collateral Ligament injuries (e.g. skier’s thumb)
• Collateral Ligament Injuries
• Osteo & Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Peripheral Nerve Injuries
• Hand Metacarpal Fractures
• Basal Joint Arthritis/Instability (TMC joint)
• Peripheral Nerve Injuries (anti-deformity)
• Wrist Fracture (distal radius/ulna)
• Wrist Sprain
• Mid Carpal Instability
• Scapholunate Instability
• SLAC Wrist
• DRUJ Injury/Instability
If the new casts allow doctors to expose incisions or pins for observation or dressing.
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