Sep 3, 2015 | By Tess

Recently, at the 18th annual Pet Fair Asia, an international trade fair for pet supplies, all eyes were on a young Alaskan malamute named Yogo. Excited and happy, Yogo was like all the other dogs, playing and running around, save for one thing: his customized 3D printed prosthetic leg.

Yogo, only a year old, suffers from a congenital atrophy in his right front leg and before being fitted for a leg prosthetic was unable to walk properly. Since his birth, his owner had desperately searched for a solution for Yogo's impairment but found little success as pet hospitals in China are currently unable to provide customized prosthetic services to handicapped dogs or cats.

In late July, however, as she perused pet microblogging forums, she quite fortuitously came upon a newly launched charity effort by the organizers of TCT Asia and Pet Fair Asia to help disabled domestic animals walk again. Sadly, many cats and dogs, after suffering from injuries or impairments are either put down or abandoned because of the high cost of animal medical services. The charity is hoping to offer an alternative to this sad reality for some pet owners who have disabled animals. To do so they have teamed up with the Hangzhou, China based additive manufacturing company Shining 3D. Together, by using state of the art 3D scanning and 3D printing technology, they are able to offer disabled pets specialized and customized prosthetics allowing them to walk again.

This particular effort is part of a larger trend in clinical surgery of working with 3D printing technology especially for the manufacturing of prosthetics. As Gartner, Inc, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, has observed in their "Hype Cycle for 3D Printing 2015" report, much of the advancement and growth within the 3D printing industry has been related to medical developments, and both fields continue to mutually influence and benefit one another.

The particular advantage of using additive manufacturing for prosthetics is the potential for customization, which allows for an almost seamless fit between the animal in question and the artificial limb making for a smoother rehabilitation.

Image on left: second edition Bionic type prosthetic, right: third edition of the wheelchair-type prosthesis

Yogo's owner contacted the charity and within a week had received good news from the organization: Yogo's case was accepted! They soon got started with the process of fitting a prosthetic leg for him. A Shining 3D technician first took a 3D scan of Yogo's legs, and based on the scan a CAD modeling designer was able to design a personalized prosthesis made to accommodate Yogo's leg atrophy. Because of the complexity of Yogo's case, the designers made four different models to be tried and tested and after many adjustments and modifications were able to fit Yogo with his new, personalized 3D printed leg!

Yogo's experience is the first example of a 3D printed pet prosthesis in China, and after seeing not only its success, but the happy and energetic Yogo at Pet Fair Asia, it certainly won't be the last!



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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