Derby the dog faced a challenge right from Day One. Due to a congenital deformity, he was born with very small forelegs and no front paws. This resulted in his ending up in the care of Hillsborough, New Hampshire-based dog rescue group, Peace and Paws. Fortunately, he then proceeded into the foster home of Tara Anderson. She works for 3D printing company 3D Systems (3DS), and set about using her employer's technology to make him a set of prostheses. As a result, he's now able to run for the first time.
Anderson worked with animal orthotist Derrick Campana and two of her 3DS co-workers, designers Kevin Atkins and Dave DiPinto.
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They started by 3D-scanning Derby's forelegs. They then used 3DS' Geomagic Freeform digital sculpting platform to create computer models of leg-attachment cups for the prostheses, which would perfectly match the contours of Derby's appendages.
Using a ProJet 5500X multi-material 3D printer, the actual physical prostheses were then created in a single build within a few hours. Along with the cups, they incorporate rubber treads and rigid spokes, and are attached with straps.
As can be seen in the video below, Derby is now able to run across all manner of surfaces. He had previously been set up with a wheeled cart-style apparatus, although this was awkward, and didn't allow him to actually run with his front legs.
Making things better yet, Anderson found a permanent home for him, with adoptive human parents Sherri and Dom Portanova. "He runs with Sherri and I every day, at least two to three miles," said Dom. "When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs, it was just amazing."
Source: 3D Systems