Instagram | @cast21official

Engineering Students' Cast Aims To Make Plaster A Thing Of The Past

Clunky, weighty, annoying plaster casts should be a thing of the past, according to Chicago-based startup Cast21, and they have just the thing to replace them: A lightweight, waterproof, lattice-work sleeve that actually lets you scratch when you itch and doesn't trap in stink and bacteria.

If you thought there had to be a better way to heal a broken bone than a plaster cast, you're far from alone.

Instagram | @cast21official

Cast21's COO, Jason Troutner, biomedical design engineer Ashley Moy, and electrical engineer Justin Brooks surely agreed. They came up with their big idea while partnered up for a project at a University of Illinois engineering design class, noting that fiberglass wasn't much of an improvement over plaster.

"Materials used in fiberglass casts aren't waterproof; they absorb and trap water," Troutner explained to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. "Those are the two main problems we set out to solve."

So, Cast21 set out to heal broken bones with a completely new cast.

Instagram | @cast21official

Their cast consists of a waffle-like lattice design made from silicon tubes. The tubes are filled up with a resin mixture that stays malleable for a few minutes while doctors mold it to the arm, and then hardens fully in about five minutes.

It's a pretty easy, straightforward process for all involved, taking 15-20 minutes from start to finish.

There are obviously more benefits to Cast21's solution than just the fact that it's waterproof.

Although that is a huge deal, too. Not only can you shower with it on, you can also clean off the cast with ease if you get it dirty.

As a huge bonus, those gaps in the body of the cast encourage air flow so moisture doesn't get trapped inside, creating that crazy itch of traditional casts — and if you do get an itch, it's not a ridiculous exercise to scratch.

When it's time for the cast to come off, Cast21's cast is an absolute breeze.

Instagram | @cast21official

There's no loud, scary spinning saw involved, which should make it a much more pleasant experience for kids in particular. All your doctor has to do is snip a few tabs with shears.

However, we're still a ways off from seeing these casts everywhere.

Right now, Cast21 has a fully functioning forearm cast model, but that's it.

Instagram | @cast21official

But as they see it, the sky's the limit for their cast. In particular, it could be a huge addition to a home first aid kit.

As Veronica Hogg, Cast21's vice president of engineering, told the Daily Mail, "no electricity or water is needed to apply our cast, so it's very portable. It has potential for use in the military and for at-home first aid."

What do you think? Could Cast21's cast make plaster and fiberglass a thing of the past?

h/t: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Daily Mail