Last November, a British patient received the world’s first 3D-printed prosthetic eye. With 3D printed prosthetic technologies advancing at their own pace, it’s no surprise to hear of another ingenious use of the process.
Now, a Polish 3D printer manufacturer, Zortrax Inventure, has reported the story of student Maciej Szczepański, who designs and manufactures 3D-printed prostheses for injured dogs. These new prostheses offer a new life to disabled dogs.
3D printed prostheses
by Szczepanski the adventures of 3D printing began when he noticed that the use of animal prostheses in Poland was not as popular as in the United States, for example. Szczepański then took it upon himself to help many needy animals. “I wanted to create prostheses that would improve the quality of life of an animal that will use it,” said Szczepanski.
His first two patients were Sonia and Leto, two dogs who were victims of tragic traffic accidents. To help these adorable creatures, Szczepański started his project using alginates, a natural and edible polysaccharide found in brown algae, to make an impression of the dogs’ stumps which he then filled with a special ceramic filler.
A three day process
It is this cast that the ambitious student then scanned in order to prepare a 3D digital model of the prosthetic limb. The whole process from start to finish took him no more than three days. “Thanks to 3D printing, I was able to create custom-made prostheses that met the particular needs of the animal,” Szczepański said. “I no longer need to outsource this work.”
All that remained was to attach these prostheses to the dogs. Szczepański used screws for this final step and even carefully placed a cloth inside the prosthetic limb to increase the dogs comfort level.
It took just 15 minutes for Leto to get used to his new prosthetic implant and start walking like he had four nimble legs. It’s clear that these prosthetics are giving disabled dogs the range of motion they once had and that’s something to celebrate. 3D printing has come a long way over the years, accomplishing a lot in the process, but this might be one of its cutest uses yet.