Derby the husky wasn’t born to run like most other dogs. Due to a congenital disease, he was born with malformed forelegs and no defined paws. Even simply getting around the house was difficult for the pup.
Luckily, Derby was adopted by Tara Anderson, who fostered him through the New Hampshire-based rescue Peace and Paws. Anderson also happened to work for a 3D printing company called 3D Systems. She knew there had to be a way to use her 3D printing skills to innovatively help out her canine companion. So she teamed up with animal orthotist, Derrick Campana, who works at Animal Ortho Care in Virginia, to create a mechanism that would make it easier for Derby and other animals who have lost a limb, or were born with deformities, to run with the rest of the pack again.
How It Works
The team at 3D Systems first scanned Derby’s front legs and built custom prosthetic arms for him within hours, each from a single mould. The prosthetics – which look like modified figure-eight wheels – incorporate rubber treads to soften the impact of running, sturdy spokes, and straps to hold them in place on the dog’s body. A central junction within the cup flexes slightly like a modified knee, to give Derby maximum range of motion.
How The Legs Were Made
After scanning Derby’s legs to discover his unique body shape for optimal comfort, the moulds were first carved as plaster casts and then digitized with a Geomagic Capture 3D scanner. Next, another type of machine – the Selective Laser Sintering 3D printer – brought the prosthetic moulds to life. The printer uses a laser to harden and bond together all the tiny grains of plastic. Derby is not the first animal to benefit from 3D-printed movement aids. The same 3D printing technology used for Derby’s legs was executed to create the lightweight midsoles for New Balance shoes.
Run, Derby, Run!
Thanks to Tara, Derrick, and the rest of the 3D printing team, Derby is now able to run almost 3 miles a day on his prosthetic legs. “This is what 3D printing is about,” Anderson told The Mirror. “To be able to help anybody; a dog, person, whoever, to have a better life, there is no better thing to be involved in.”
Check out the heartwarming video below to see Derby run with his newfound legs. It’s pawsitively adorable!