Most of the articles you find about 3D medical printing features the benefits of the technology for people who can’t afford expensive prosthetics, especially for children. But 3D printing technology turns out to be just as much of a lucky break for our four-legged friends. Here are a few of the high publicity examples of animals benefitting from 3D printing, but there are many, many more.
Derby the Dog
A viral example is Derby, a husky born without fully formed front legs. His foster family got him a pair of wheels so he could move around, but they were cumbersome, made it difficult to sniff around, and didn’t give him the ability to run. With the help of 3D Systems, Derby now goes running every day.
Felix the Sheep
In 2004, Jenny Brown and Doug Abel founded the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and began taking in animals from all walks of life. One lucky sheep name Felix moved to the sanctuary 6 years ago with only 3 legs. Jenny and Doug put up the money for a prosthetic, but over time it wore down and his legs became unstable. With the help of Andrea Looney, a veterinarian at Cornell University, and Katherine Wilson, the assistant director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center, they were able to create a 3D printed prosthetic for Felix made from ABS, a polymer used to make Legos.
Cyrano the Cat
Cyrano L. Catte II, beloved by his family, was 9 years old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Veterinarians were able to treat it and he went into remission, but not before the cancer deteriorated his femur to the point where he couldn’t walk anymore. Amputation wasn’t an option, since the hefty 26 pound cat wouldn’t be able to get up on 3 legs. But no one gave up on him—surgeons at North Carolina State University developed a 3D Printed knee implant for Cyrano with the help of Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite. Cyrano became the first cat to receive a 3D-printed knee replacement. Using a series of 3D scans of Cyrano’s leg, veterinarians were able to make an implant that had the exact structure of his old knee.
Dudley the Duck
Dudley had a rough youth—he got in an aggressive fight with a chicken that cost his brother’s life, and his own leg. Although Dudley was still able to swim pretty well after that, walking was impossible. Caregivers at K-9-1-1 Animal Rescue and Services invited Terence Loring, a mechanical engineer who specializes in architecture, to visit Dudley and see if he could help him. With the help of students from Thompson Rivers University, he was able to create a fully-functional leg to get Dudley walking again. Proto3000, a rapid prototyping bureau, printed the leg for free. Now that he’s strutting about with ease, everyone calls him ‘Studley Dudley.’