Introduction: 3D Print a Splint

About: bicycles, gardening, and other important stuff

Due to an unfortunate run-in between an SUV and my motorcycle, I found myself with a broken finger. Unhappy with the splint I received in the ER, I designed and printed my own.

Step 1: Materials

Very simple: a 3d printer, measuring tape, some adhesive wrap, and scissors. I used a lulzbot mini running HIPS, my field notes notebook, and 3m nexcare waterproof stretchable medical tape. I cut the tape in half to fit on my finger more comfortably.

Step 2: Design

I disliked the splint the hospital game me because it was:

  • Ugly: penguin-like finger coupling visible from across the room.
  • Uncomfortable: the foam was against the whole length of my hand, it felt all slimy if I washed my hands, and the aluminum poked me.
  • Smelly: the foam started to mold within 24 hours.

I tried to address these by making my splint:

  • My favorite color: not everybody likes bright orange, but I do:)
  • Rounded: smooth angles at the ends to keep the splint from poking when I move
  • Ventilated: holes through the whole splint to allow airflow over my hand

Step 3: Model

I used Autodesk Inventor to model my dream splint. You can use whatever you want; I'm comfortable with inventor from other projects.

The biggest challenge was planning for printability: I wanted the curvature to match my current splint, and I didn't want to use support material.

After some thought, a eureka moment: I'll just remove the splint from the hotplate immediately after the print is complete! If it's still warm, I should be able to flex it to match the curvature of my hand.

Ipt file attached; lmk if you need a different format.

Step 4: Print

I went right from Inventor to Cura, printing with the fast HIPS profile after rotating the part.

~32 minutes later, I popped my splint-to-be off the build plate, bent it into shape, and said goodbye to the moldy foam hospital gear.

Step 5: Splint!

I'd hoped velcro would work, allowing me to quickly and easily remove the splint when I wanted to shower. This didn't have enough stretchiness to stay in place, so I switched to medical tape. The ridges in the splint keep the tape in place.

For a future version, which I hope I'll never need, I would base the exact shape of the splint on the results of a CT scan of the broken bone:)

Thanks for reading, and I hope this Instructable does not come in handy for you:)

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