Generatively Designed and 3D Printed Cast Is A Hit with the Patient

From previous blog posts, recall this gang of three:

Arthur Harsuvanakit
Senior Designer, Arthur Harsuvanakit, has been tackling new technologies and design processes by producing projects that showcase and communicate the potential of these technologies. His work improves Autodesk's understanding of what is and isn't possible with our tools as part of a hands-on approach to improving our products and services.

Brice Dudley
Brice Dudley is majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford. He will graduate in May 2018. He was a key member of a 4-person team that designed, made, and used a Two Towers Project — a tower system to transport multiple buckets of Ping-Pong balls within specific constraints, and a pinball machine with working mechanical parts built out of foam cord, hot glue, tape, dowels, string, and marbles. And similar to our previous interns' Handtriloquist glove, he designed, built, and helped code an exoskeleton robotic arm to help research rehabilitation methods for stroke patients. He also helped engineer a haptic bicep curl machine.

Jack Reinke
Jack Reinke is majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida. He will graduate in May 2020. He was the leader of a 3-person team that created the first carbon fiber composite fly fishing reel and has a patent application in progress. Jack has been using Autodesk Inventor since 8th grade. His high school had a large engineering lab that allowed him to use CNC mills, lathes, laser cutters, and 3D printers. Jack will start his internship fully versed in Fusion 360 as he will have been using it for almost a year.


This summer, Autodesk Designer, Arthur Harsuvankit worked with Office of the CTO interns, Jack Reinke and Brice Dudley to explore generative design for the health field by creating a 3D-printed hand cast for an individual who was in the middle of his recovery. Arthur had wanted to do something with casts for a while and working with the interns on their summer project was mutually beneficial. The interns got to work on something meaningful, and Arthur got extra sets of hands. So in addition to his report on the desk for our MaRS office, Arthur also filed this report.

The team envisioned a generative 3D-printed cast as an improvement over a traditional cast method for its minimalism, materiality, and customization. Traditional casts are bulky, not well ventilated, and need to be kept dry. With a generative cast's slim profile, a patient no longer stands out visually as being injured. In addition, the material of 3D-printed ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic allows patients to wet their casts while taking a shower, and the open features created in the generative process also allow for ventilation of the affected area that can speed up the healing process.

Full cast body

The process for creating the generative cast started with customizing each cast to exactly fit to the patient's unique body. A 3D-scan was taken of the affected areas, and a 3D model was generated around the area. From there, the 3D model was put through an optimization process that calculated the forces the cast might experience from everyday use and removed material from the 3D model that the system found as not necessary in maintaining the structural integrity of the form.

Load paths image

Afterwards, a simple and robust pin mechanism was incorporated into the 3D model to allow for assembling onto the arm.

Exploded 1

The generative cast was then ready to be 3D-printed as a replacement for the patient's traditional cast.


The result was one happy patient who can now take a shower without a hassle and even swim.


We are on the brink of the biggest change in how we make things since the industrial revolution, and this isn't just about new technology. It's about changes in culture, politics, and attitudes. As a leading 3D technology provider for the architecture, engineering, and construction; product design and manufacturing; and media and entertainment industries, by embarking on projects like Arthur's, Autodesk is paying attention to three major catalysts for disruption of the industries that we serve:

  1. Means of Production

    The process of how we make physical things is evolving. Autodesk customers simply don't design, manufacture, or build things the same way as they used to.

  2. The Nature of Consumer Demand

    The customers of Autodesk customers care more about how and where things are made. Interest in locally made, produced, and sold items is growing everywhere.

  3. Products themselves

    The term "Product" is a proxy for all the things Autodesk customers make (whether it's a building, movie, highway, or car). Things are now deeply connected — to each other and to other interconnected digital systems. The bottom line is that things don't function in isolation anymore. They are smart. They talk to each other, affect each other, even change over time.

This project shows that both the means of production and consumer demand are indeed changing.

Alternative healing is alive in the lab.