Jan 25, 2015 | By Simon

When considering what can be done with a 3D printer these days, some users will purchase a desktop fabricator with the sole intention of creating one product and one product only...or at least, that is where they start on their 3D printing journey anyways.  Unsurprisingly, one new 3D printing enthusiast purchased their desktop 3D printer specifically to be able to design and fabricate a wheelchair for their dachshund puppy.

Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak woke up early on the morning of July 27th, 2014 to an unfamiliar squeaking sound and found a tiny puppy behind their pillow.  After they had discovered that their dog had just given birth to new puppies, the couple took a closer look noticed that one of the puppies was missing her two front legs.   

“Never seeing a two legged dog before we had no clue about what to expect for her quality of life,” said Byers and Smoak.   “But after a quick Google search and four more puppies later our fears had settled.“

After weeks of bottle feeding and researching, Byers and Smoak decided that once the puppy, who they named Bubbles, was big enough, they would get her a wheelchair.  

After further research, the couple decided to build their own wheelchair for Bubbles using a combination of carbon fiber, model airplane, and 3D printed parts with the hope that others would be able to utilize the same design for their own dogs in need of a wheelchair...which can be a costly purchase.  

In helping to share the open source design and spread the word, Byers uploaded the wheelchair design to MakerBot’s Thingiverse... and even admits that she is the reason why he bought the 3D printer in the first place and “loves the freedom that it has given her”.

The design, which features a torso support combined with an axle and two wheels, is not only cheaper and more immediately accessible than existing dog wheelchairs, it also removes unnecessary hardware and straps that can add to the overall weight of the wheelchair design.  Additionally, a user could customize the size and weight of the wheelchair depending on their own dog’s needs.  This could include customizing the material options, the level of infill, colors, and even the size of the wheels for a number of different terrains.

It’s projects like these that highlight the true power of 3D printing and localized manufacturing: all it takes is one person to create a model and the entire world can benefit... including their furry friends.  

An earlier version of 3D printed wheelchair

"Since daddy got the mechanics of my cart pretty much figured out he started working on the style and comfort."

You can stay updated on Bubbles' activities by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Dave wrote at 5/20/2015 5:51:55 PM:

Curious which 3D printer you are using.

Xiaoyi Liu wrote at 2/12/2015 4:01:16 AM:

I have a dog whom I found lying on the street with her spine broken somewhere. I took her to the hospital and the Doctors tried their best to fix the problem. She survived but she can only walk using her front legs. I think the wheelchair is what she needs now. How I can get start to order a wheelchair for her? Thanks for any suggestion. Xiaoyi Liu

lynnette birch wrote at 1/31/2015 5:07:01 AM:

My " Capri " (year and a half old Rat Terrier ) was born w/o her front legs. I love her to pieces and this would be the answer to completing her posture and life. Who do I contact to talk about wheels for Capri. We live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Katherine Odom wrote at 1/29/2015 5:33:46 PM:

I have a two legged wiener doggie as well. She lost her back legs due to a bad back problem so she basically licked one of them off and caused an infection which resulted in the removal of the other. The vet said basically she lost all feeling in her legs and licked them to try to regain feeling, sort of like when our legs fall asleep and we move them to get feeling back. She refuses to wear the bulky wheelchair I got for her when she first lost her legs. I wish I could find someone to make her a little back end chair like this one. Hers is made from pvc pipe and rollerblade wheels and it is just must to heavy for her to carry. I would love if I could purchase her one so she could get around better and possibly add some ease and longevity to her life!

Rod G wrote at 1/29/2015 5:59:18 AM:

That doggie is so full of sweetness, you can see it by the way he presents himself on wanting to just be right there with you...!! Good lil'doggie....(:

Barbara Kelley wrote at 1/28/2015 8:40:24 PM:

Where can I purchase one of these??? I have a Jack Russell who was hit by a car and broke his two front legs. Surgery did not fix them. My husband is not able to make one of these. Please, please tell me I can order it?

Denise Rupert wrote at 1/25/2015 3:35:44 PM:

Bubbles Dad, YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!! Bubbles Mom is AWESOME TOO!!!!!!! They love little Bubbles so much!!! Thank you for giving her the best life possie!!!!

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