Here at HEXAPOLIS, we have talked quite a bit about the wonders of prosthesis. Remember Blade, the adorable tortoise with a set of prosthetic LEGO wheels for legs? More recently, we reported the use of John Hopkins University’s Modular Prosthetic Limbs on a bilateral, shoulder-length amputee named Les Baugh. Well this time around, we have Derby the dog, a living testimony to the miracles of prostheses and 3D printing. Thanks to a pair of 3D-printed prosthetic legs, Derby, a disabled dog with malformed paws, can now run freely for the very first time.
As a result of a congenital disease, Derby was born with a pair of deformed front paws that are shaped more like flippers than actual feet. Unfortunately, running or even walking around the house has so far been something that he has never fully experienced. Moved by Derby’s plight, Tara Anderson, a benevolent animal lover, decided to foster him through a New Hampshire-based animal rescue organization, called Peace and Paws.
An employee of the Chuck Hull-founded company 3D Systems, Anderson wanted to use her knowledge of the technology to aid Derby in his mobility problems. Subsequently, she got in touch with Derrick Campana, an excellent dog orthotist working at Virginia-based Animal Ortho Care. The goal was to develop a functional and usable design that could be easily reproduced by means of a 3D printer.
The prosthetics, that Derby has been fitted with, consist of two parts: a semi-circular section which comes in contact with the ground while walking and a cup that actually holds the dog’s leg in place. The artificial limbs were first carved manually as plaster casts, which were then digitized by means of a Geomagic Capture 3D Scanner. A CT scan of Derby’s front paws further helped the team perfect the design, in order to maximize comfort and fit.
The actual prosthetics were built using 3D Systems ProJet 5500X printer. The following video shows how Derby runs about gleefully with the help of his new prosthetic appendages.