Almost half of canine amputations are due to cancer treatment or accidents, and despite multiple efforts in animal prosthetics, no effective and widespread solution has yet been found. Knowing that a dog’s front legs support 60% of its body weight, it is important to ensure that the amputated dog’s weight is evenly distributed. “One-legged puppies” can develop more serious health problems if not given attention and treatment. Fortunately, advances in medical 3D printing have benefited humans as well as our animal companions. To that end, New Jersey-based 3D Pets has a simple goal—to bring animal mobility into the 21st century.
3D Pets, a subsidiary of 3D printing and design company DiveDesign, was able to focus resources and attention on the veterinary revolution as an independent team. Businesses involved include making custom dog prosthetics for canine clients. 3D Pets utilizes FDM 3D printing and 3D scanning to determine the exact support and shape requirements of each animal. Unlike the large, bulky devices used in some hospitals or clinics, 3D printing and scanning are more home-like technologies that can be done with a smartphone.
△3D Pets offers a modular design to accommodate different types of prosthetics.
Focus on 3D pet customization solutions for individual needs
Before 3D printing animal prosthetics, 3D scanning was required, and today’s smartphones can be equipped with advanced cameras, so the operation can be completed using a mobile phone. The process required several steps: A questionnaire was filled out to determine the best type of equipment a patient would need; 3D Pets sent the customer a molding kit to make a rigid mold of the animal’s body; once the mold was complete, the team had access to a smartphone 360-degree scans of the mold were taken by the company’s LiDAR and TrueDepth cameras and uploaded as digital files; after rendering in a modeling software application, the mold could be modified to best fit the animal’s body. This fine-tuning process is an important step that takes into account a dog’s unique shape, size, and prosthetic needs to maximize its comfort and mobility.
The result is a custom harness that can then be 3D printed using an FDM 3D printer. The exact details of the machines used are unclear, but the company did say they use flexible TPU plastic that comes in a variety of colors. After post-processing and removing any imperfections, the prosthetic is ready to be assembled and delivered to a lucky pup! With a 3D-printed prosthetic, the puppy will begin to relearn how to walk on all fours. Trust that 3D Pets will continue to make a difference in the lives of dogs and the human families who love them.
3D Pets says FDM has an extremely low barrier to entry, is easy to modify, and the technology is available in thousands of materials. One of the biggest benefits is the mass production of custom parts, every prosthetic is very different, but we can meet demand. Plus, allocate your free time now to develop new types of prosthetic joints, carts, adapters, and more to further advance the pet industry!