Apr 3, 2017 | By Tess

While many of the 3D printing stories we cover revolve around how the technology is helping out people, it is always a pleasure to cover ones that show how humans are using the technology to help animals. Most recently, a touching story has come out of Ohio, where an injured pet guinea pig was given a tiny 3D printed wheelchair to help it get around.

Luna in her 3D printed wheelchair

Luna, an eight-month-old guinea pig, was injured when she accidentally fell off her carer’s bed. The fall, though thankfully not fatal, resulted in the temporary paralysis of the little rodent’s hind legs. Luna’s owner, 9-year-old Emmanuel Mills, wanted to find a way to help his pet regain her mobility.

A bit out of his own skill set, the child asked his older sister, 16-year-old Jessceya Bonds, for help. She, in turn, reached out to the Lorain County Joint Vocational School (JVS) after watching many videos of cats and dogs being fitted with 3D printed wheelchairs and assistive devices.

Finally, it was JVS teacher Brian Scanlan who got back in touch and offered his own and his students’ help in designing and 3D printing a tiny, guinea pig-sized wheelchair for the injured Luna. Basing the design on an existing dog wheelchair, Scanlan and his students were able to scale the model down and 3D print it using JVS’ new 3D printer.

The tiny wheelchair was 3D printed from red polyamide nylon, and was assembled using paper clips and straps, which were placed to hold up Luna’s back legs and to attach the device to her body so she could roll around. “This was a first,” commented Scanlan. “[Jessceya] asked, and I said, ‘Sure, we can,’ and then she started talking about fittings, and I said, ‘Well, I’m not a vet, but let’s figure it out.”

Brian Scanlan and Jessceya Bonds

Jessceya did admit that Luna did not take to the 3D printed wheelchair super well, as she seemed to ultimately prefer getting around on her own. Funnily, just a couple weeks after 3D printing the wheelchair, Luna had gained too much weight to even fit in it properly, so it was scaled up slightly and re-printed. Still, Emmanual and Jessceya were happy to have been given help with their pet guinea pig.

Before making the 3D printed wheelchair, Jessceya checked with a local vet to make sure it was a good idea. In addition to the assistive wheelchair, the vet also aided by administering laser therapy and giving Jessceya and her younger sibling special stretches for the guinea pig.

Jessceya Bonds holds Luna

(Images: Lorain County JVS)

Lorain County JVS offers vocational and technical training to students as well as adults. Scanlan is currently working with his students to 3D print various things, including fidget devices, which can help students to concentrate.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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