PhotoImagine being a dog seeing a ball but never being able to run for it let alone walk to it.

3D printing technology has completely changed that scenario for one lucky dog. Derby was born with a birth defect, a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws. He was only able to get around on soft surfaces. Places like the sidewalk were off-limits because he would scrape up his legs.

3D Systems employee Tara Anderson had been fostering Derby through a rescue group Peace and Paws in Hillsborough, N.H. She tried to help Derby initially with a cart and wheels but saw that it really didn't give him true mobility. She knew that 3D technology could create prosthetics to help Derby walk.  

Anderson recruited two designers along with Derrick Campana, an animal orthotist. They scanned Derby’s legs and made cradles and blades that fit him perfectly. The team used Geomagic Freeform, a digital sculpting platform, which allowed them to create organic shapes and smooth curves for Derby’s shape.

The prosthetics were made in just a few hours and shipped so Derby could try them out.

“The beauty of 3D printing is that if the design needs to be adjusted, we don’t have to wait for time-consuming and expensive traditional manufacturing processes, we can simply print out a new set,” said Buddy Byrum, Vice President of Product and Channel Management, 3DS.

“The dovetailing of 3D scanning and design with the ProJet 5500X multi-material 3D printing allowed for the creation of complete prosthetics printed in a single build, custom-fit to Derby,” he said.

Derby now has new owners, Sherri and Dom Portanova, and he is able to run all over them as well as past them, as shown in this video:

“He runs with Sherri and I every day, at least two to three miles,” said Dom Portanova. “When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs it was just amazing.”


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