Dec 16, 2014

Born with deformities in both of his front legs, Derby the dog was, until now, only able to get around on soft surfaces. With the help of 3D printed prosthetics, Derby has got a second chance and his life completely changed.

Derby was born with a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws. Hard surfaces, like sidewalks, cause severe abrasions on his front extremities.

Derby was brought to Peace and Paws Dog Rescue in April, and fostered by Tara Anderson, Director of CJP Product Management at 3D Systems in Massachusetts. Tara knew it would be possible to rapidly design and manufacture prosthetics customized to Derby's morphology, and decided to help.

With the help of her colleagues, 3DS designers, Kevin Atkins and Dave DiPinto, and ABC Certified Orthotist at Animal Ortho Care, Derrick Campana, the team scanned Derby's forearms and created 3D design of unique prostheses for Derby. They utilized Geomagic Freeform, 3DS' digital sculpting platform, which allowed them to create perfect organic shapes and smooth curves for Derby's shape. A few different iterations were experimented with until the birth of the "elbow cups".

"The great thing about using 3D technology in Derby's case, is having these images on file on a computer, and being able to print them. It is a lot quicker than having to hand sculpt every single mold and rebuild these braces five to ten times," explained Campana.

Tara and the designers used the ProJet 5500X 3D printer, which delivers multi-material 3D printing in a single build, to print complete prosthetics with comfortable cups in rubber and rigid spokes and base. Ready in a few hours, the prosthetics were shipped to Derby for testing.

"The beauty of 3D printing is that if the design needs to be adjusted, we don't have to wait for time-consuming and expensive traditional manufacturing processes, we can simply print out a new set," said Buddy Byrum, Vice President of Product and Channel Management, 3DS. "The dovetailing of 3D scanning and design with the ProJet 5500X multi-material 3D printing allowed for the creation of complete prosthetics printed in a single build, custom-fit to Derby."

Images: Facebook: Derby-Portanova

Through the power of 3D, Derby is now able to run alongside. In August, Derby was adopted by Sherri and Dom Portanova, who saw him through the rest of this printing process and was impressed by the power of 3D printing.

"He runs with Sherri and I every day, at least two to three miles," said Dom Portanova. "When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs it was just amazing. I couldn't believe it!"

"This is what 3D printing is all about," said Anderson. "To be able to help anybody; a dog, person, whoever, to have a better life, there is no better thing to be involved in."

See the video of Derby's incredible journey here.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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