Jun 25, 2015 | By Simon

While we’ve certainly been hearing our fair share of feel-good stories that involve children in need of various prosthetic devices receiving 3D printed prosthetics from organizations such as e-NABLE, the low cost and increasingly accessible technology has also come to the aide in helping our four-legged friends, too.

Recently, Ziggy, a border collie from Queensland, Australia who belongs to a group of  veterinary students at the University of Queensland, underwent a surgical procedure that was made possible thanks to the aid of a 3D printed replica of his deformed front leg. 

Sadly, Ziggy was born with a deformed front leg and has spent the majority of his life without the full use of his front legs.  The veterinary students wanted to operate on the leg to fix it, however they were in need of a replica of Ziggy’s leg in order to study the deformity beforehand.


Thankfully, the students and their professor got in touch with local resident Don McGuinness, who is currently in the early stages of developing a 3d printing startup.  Unsurprisingly, McGuinness jumped at the opportunity to lend his expertise towards helping the team develop a 3d printed replica of Ziggy’s leg.  

According to McGuinness, the team had already taken 3D scans of Ziggy’s leg, but in order to fabricate the missing piece that would be attached to the leg, they needed an accurate physical representation of the leg in order to fine-tune and fabricate the piece in advance of the actual surgery.  

“Obviously when they start cutting him up they have to have the piece to put in straight away. So they were casting around for where they could get this 3D printing job done,” said McGuinness, “so they called and asked me if I could do the job.”

Although McGuinness has experience with 3D printing, the majority of his previous work has been focused on creating prototypes and patterns for various molds.  Needless to say, he hadn’t 3D printed a dog’s front leg before, which proved to be a challenge.  

However, after just three days of development and printing, McGuinness was able to present the students with an accurate 3D printed replica of Ziggy’s leg based off of the original 3D scan data that they had supplied him with.  

Immediately after, the students began the process of planning the surgery and, just a week and a half ago, completed the surgery and are currently awaiting to see if Ziggy will make full recovery.  

Ultimately, the use of 3D printing in creating anatomical replicas for surgical procedures is continuing to revolutionize the way medical professionals approach the surgical procedure - whether it’s for humans or for animals.  

As for McGuinness, he’s open to future projects if he gets the phone call.  

“I’ll make my services available to the university if they have any other situations arise,” he adds.

“I’ll do it free of charge, for the sake of the dog of course. Because of my love for animals and technology I’d be very interested in any other situations of this nature and, of course, if humans were involved too. But I think there’s a lot more resources for humans and plenty of 3D printers printing prosthetic limbs.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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