Dec 30, 2015 | By Alec
Remember Derby the dog? The cheerful, but unfortunate Derby was born with a congenital deformity that resulted in very small front legs and no front paws, making it virtually impossible to walk on hard surfaces like sidewalks. Derby was a dog always confined to the grass, but he was still always cheerful. His life changed drastically about a year ago, when Derby received a pair of 3D printed custom made prosthetics from 3D Systems, which enabled him to walk on hard surfaces. Now, having gotten fully used to those prosthetics, it was time for an upgrade that not only enabled him to walk and sit like a normal dog, but also put his back in the position where it is meant to be.
It’s one of those heartwarming stories that remind us what 3D printing can do to change lives forever. Back in April 2014, Derby was brought to Peace and Paws Dog Rescue and was fostered by Tara Anderson, who happened to be the Director of CJP Product Management at 3D Systems in Massachusetts. Tara knew exactly what 3D printing could do in these kinds of situations, and decided to help.
The first generation of prosthetics.
While those initial prosthetics already did a lot to help Derby walk around, the time had come for a solution that would help his back. As Anderson explained, she initially simply enlarged the first generation of prosthetics, but this didn’t work as well as they hoped – they were too large, bulky and got in the way of walking. Anderson therefore had to find a different option and found inspiration in the way regular knees operate: with a bit of flexibility when exposed to pressure.
However, as regular FDM 3D printing wasn’t going to cut it, she turned to SLS 3D printing. “We needed something like nylon that would have that structural capacity, but also that little bit of give and take that real knees have,” she explained. The result are a pair of prosthetics that have a bit of bounce in them, and enable Derby to move around like any other dog.
Fortunately, Derby didn’t mind all the experimenting or wearing the prosthetics. “Derby took to his new prosthetic very well. No different really in having them on than the old ones except it raised him to his proper height. He’s walking in a straight line and he’s sitting like a real dog sits, like he hasn’t really been able to do,” adoptive owner Sherry Portanova explained. While not exactly running down the fields like another dog, this is about as normal as it can get when you’re missing two limbs. More importantly, Derby’s back is now as straight as it should be, which will hopefully do away with any future complications he might encounter.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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