We’ve seen 3D printers churn out amazing things, sometimes even unbelievable things, and once in a while ridiculous things. But what if 3D printing could do something amazing, selfless, and heart-warming as well? That can definitely happen with a bit of imagination, creativity, science, and the will to put the technology to even better use, as in this case of Derby, a handicapped canine that was able to experience first hand the empowering benefits of 3D printing. With a little help from humans, of course.
Derby is a dog born with two deformed front legs that makes walking difficult. Nevermind being able to run gleefully beside his human. Animal foster house the Peace and Paws rescue put out a call for owners and Derby’s situation touched the heart of Tara Anderson. At first, the Andersons equipped Derby with walkers, a pair of wheels that give the dog mobility but not in the same freedom and flexibility of real legs. A better solution was needed. And as Derby’s luck would have it, Tara happened to work for 3D Systems.
Yep, this is the very same 3D Systems that Google tapped to help print out Project Ara‘s shell. Needless to say, they are pretty much experts in the field. But printing modular smartphone enclosures are one thing. Printing something that will function as legs, especially on a non-human being like a dog, is a whole different game. That is why 3D System designers enlisted the help of animal orthotist Derrick Campana to design blades that would take the place of Derby’s legs. But these aren’t like your usual prosthetics. They are specially designed not to get stuck in cracks, whicb would be common when running around pavement and sidewalks in a residential area.
And the end result? Nothing short of touching and impressive. Dogs might not be able to speak, but Derby’s vigor and energy at his new found ability to walk and run definitely paints more than a thousand words.