Feb 19, 2016 | By Kira
Sir Joey McGee, an adorable and energetic 3-year-old Chihuahua, is about to become one of 3D printing’s most famous puppies, joining the ranks of Tumbles, Yogo, and Derby the Dog, all of whom have received 3D printed assistive devices to help improve their limited mobility.
Sir Joey, who was born with deformations in both his front legs and could only get around by hopping or scooting, was recently rescued by Ken Hanson of the Dallas, Texas-based tech company Dialexa. This was extremely fortunate for the regal pup, not only because he was welcomed into a safe and caring home, but also because Dialexa just so happens to be an end-to-end product development company, outfitted with the software development and hardware engineering expertise to design and build him a custom 3D printed wheelchair.
Dialexa’s hardware engineer and “in-house mad scientist” Romeo España, began by taking Sir Joey’s measurements, as well as collecting 3D files from other dogs that have similar conditions. The team then created a series of digital 3D iterations using SolidWorks, and eventually 3D printed prototypes, sometimes using LEGO blocks and wheels to help ensure they were getting the right fit. In order to make it both functional and comfortable, they designed a harness and chest plates that are as lightweight as possible.
Dialexa 3D printed several versions of Sir Joey’s wheelchair, and kept up a great sense of humor throughout. The second prototype, for example, included horizontal slits and strong straps “to use attachments for various skis, inside wheels, off-road wheels, etc!!!” wrote Hanson on his Facebook page. They also had to do some readjustments after realizing that, after a particularly large meal, Sir Joey’s belly no longer fit in the prototype.
Finally, Hanson and España landed on a version that let Sir Joey zip around quite freely. “So long as I held on the leash and clip in the back, he was cruising around pretty good,” said Hanson. “It was magic watching him run!!! Tail wagging hard enough to move him around.”
Even with this initial success, Dialexa is continuing to develop and refine the 3D printed wheelchair model to ensure that Sir Joey is as comfortable as possible. Eventually, the team plans to release the open source 3D printable files, so that anyone who needs one for their own furry friend can easily access them and make their own using mostly off-the-shelf hardware parts.
For now, is seems as though Sir Joey is well on his way towards becoming the mobile, independent little guy he’s always been at heart. With 3D printing projects such as this, as well as many other 3D printed pet wheelchair products becoming more accessible, we hope that soon enough, every dog, cat, and four-legged (or two-legged) friend can get up and running once again. In the meantime, you can keep track of Sir Joey McGee and his 3D printed wheelchair's progress on Dialexa's Instagram or Sir Joey's own Facebook.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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