Jan 17, 2016 | By Benedict

They say that cats have nine lives, but how many have two wheels? After falling six floors and breaking two legs before Christmas, Mozart the cat is lucky to be alive. However, thanks to 3D printing technology, the adorable Birman is not only safe and well, but roaming freely with his new 3D printed wheelchair.

Martin Orliac, Mozart’s owner, received the scare of his life a week before Christmas, half-way through seeing the new Star Wars film. Upon reading of his beloved pet’s 30m fall from their balcony in New South Wales, Australia, Orliac ran straight out of the theatre. When the terrified owner reached the hospital, he found Mozart with two broken legs. The vet called the cat’s survival a “miracle”.

Although relieved that his four-legged friend had pulled through, Orliac was understandably concerned when told that Mozart would not be able to walk for two months. Two options were presented to the worried owner: Keep Mozart in a small corner, or find him an expensive wheelchair. “These wheelchairs for pets are really expensive, ad hoc-type devices that cost dramatically more than for a human,” Orliac told StartupSmart.

Neither expense nor confinement appealed to Orliac, so he sought help and alternative solutions from the internet. Luckily, there was one incredible tool which could turn Mozart’s sorrow into joy: Not a magic flute, but a 3D printer!

“Some people have been quite ingenious in making wheelchairs for cats,” Orliac explained. “A guy in Israel made different parts through 3D printing and put them readily available online. It wouldn’t cost much and wouldn’t be that difficult, but I didn’t have a 3D printer.”

Having little knowledge of 3D printing, Orliac asked his friend Joshua Flannery, a member of several online maker communities, for help. Flannery reached out to the University of New South Wales student entrepreneur network for assistance, receiving a flurry of responses “within minutes”.

"We do have this very enthusiastic young student entrepreneur community that doesn't shut down at any time of year and I posted Martin's dilemma on our Facebook group," Flannery said. "Before I knew it we had three or four offers for help."

3D printing enthusiast and UNSW student Viriya Chittasy offered to 3D print the wheelchair for Mozart, which has already gotten the lucky feline back on its feet. "It was pretty simple to build…[and] is actually really solid,” Orliac said. “The cat started walking around with it. He’s got a lot of strength back and is crawling around and jumping around.”

The two friends were delighted with the online response they received. “It was important to be able to give back to our partners on a more personal level and it just shows that we have a really caring and valuable community of entrepreneurs around the university,” Flannery said.

Mozart’s story exemplifies the power of both 3D printing technology itself and the tight-knit maker communities built around it. We wish the lucky tom the speediest of recoveries.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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