Aug 17, 2016 | By Tess

While many sixteen-year-olds are glued to their video games, out partying with friends, or gallivanting around playing Pokémon Go, Nikita Krishnan from La Jolla, San Diego has gone ahead and founded her very own non-profit, Creature Comfort & Care, which seeks to help injured animals of every shape and size with custom 3D printed prosthetics. The ambitious and downright impressive teen was inspired to start the project because of her immense love for animals.

Krishnan, who has long wanted a pet of her own, decided that the next best thing would be to help other people’s pets and animals more generally. Her initial inspiration for the non-profit came after a family trip to India, where she could not help but notice all the limping and three legged stray dogs that lived on the streets. After the trip, it took some time to figure out how exactly she could make a difference, but with her discovery of 3D printing technologies last year, the teen’s innovative mind got racing.

With the help of her local library’s 3D printing lab and the expertise of one of the library’s volunteers, Jim Bixby (and engineer and the former CEO of SeQual Technologies), Krishnan was quickly introduced to the technology and its accompanying design softwares. Bixby commented on Krishnan’s uncanny ability saying: “I’m blown away by her. I couldn’t believe she’s a tenth grader. She’s mature, self assured and super bright. I’ve coached lots of people in my career and she’s one of the most coachable I’ve come across. She listens to what you have to saw, then goes off and when she comes back, she’s mastered it.”

To make printing even more convenient for Krishnan and seeing the potential of her work, her father, a health care services executive, invested in an Ultimaker 3D printer for his daughter. This was in September of last year. Since then, Krishnan has dedicated herself to finding clients for her free animal prosthetics service, which at first proved to be difficult as many animal centers and organizations did not initially reply to her offer. Fortunately, after some perseverance, Krishnan got her first client: the Greyhound Adoption Center in California.

Darren Rigg, the founder and president of the Center, reached out to Krishnan because he saw potential in her project and thought that his dogs could benefit from lightweight and custom fitted 3D printed splints. Greyhounds, which are best known as racing dogs, often suffer leg injuries during races because of built up momentum and quick turns, making them prime candidates for novel splints and treatments. Traditionally, treatments for the dogs consist of heavy casts and splints, which made recovering and movement difficult for them. The Greyhound Adoption Center, which rehabilitates and finds homes for racing dogs, has housed more than 6,000 greyhounds and greyhound mixes since its founding in 1987.

Since the Center’s collaboration with Creature Comfort & Care, two greyhounds have been fitted with 3D printed splints, and more are expected to be wearing them soon as Krishnan is currently working on a set of 10 adjustable two-part splints, which can be customized to fit almost any size of dog.

Krishnan is also working with other animals, as she has been designing a 3D printed prosthetic boot for a Cooper’s Hawk with a paralyzed claw at the Living Discovery Center located in the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. She will also be collaborating with the San Diego Zoo to design and print a specialized bird feeder that blocks out bacteria from outside sources. Krishnan is also open to working with any other organizations or even individuals who are in need of 3D printed medical devices for animals. Considering the cost of production is so low, the teen has kept her business free of charge, so time is her only limitation. In fact, she has even enlisted the help of her younger sister, Sarina, to help with the production.

 

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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