Here at 3DPrint.com we cover our share of stories about 3D printing technologies helping people rebuild their lives through customized prosthetics, orthotics, and devices. The medical applications for the technology seem unlimited, and we are frequently reminded that medical devices are not just limited to humans. In July, we covered a story about how Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Science and Veterinary Medicine Department (NPUST) is opening its first 3D printing-driven rehabilitation center for domestic animals. And do you remember the story about Derby the dog, who received two 3D printed front prosthetic legs? Of course, the need does not stop with domestic animals. We’ve also covered a great story about how a group of Georgia fifth graders helped design a 3D printed prosthetic leg for a turtle named Stumpy. Some animals need your help, as Pawsthetics’ recently launched Indiegogo campaign is showing us, as well, seeking to broaden the availability of 3D printing for animals in need.
Lilly is receiving the royal 3D printing treatment: a group of high school students is designing a rehabilitative wheelchair made just for her! Lilly is a two-year-old goat who was born missing her right front and back legs. She has been cared for by Angels of Assisi, an animal shelter in Roanoke, Virginia, for the past several months. And as fate would have it, Caitlin Hartman, a teacher at William Byrd High School, saw a Facebook post about making legs or a wheelchair for the goat. She thought that 3D printing could help:
“I saw that they had a two-legged goat that they were trying to work something out with, for a wheelchair or legs or something. I thought, I have the perfect class for this, ” explained Hartman.
But designing a wheelchair for a two-legged goat is no easy task. It is also an excellent academic project that requires not only STEM skills, but teamwork amongst the students. One of the students leading the project, Christian Robertson, described the design challenge they had taken on:
“You have to match the mechanics of both sides with the legs. You have to create almost a suspension, like a car…Now that [Lilly] is losing muscle mass in the legs [she is] not able to operate until someone moves [her]. So with this wheelchair, [she] is able to work out the other legs. It’s like physical therapy every time [she] moves.”
First an electronic mold — a wheelchair prototype — was created, and then they scanned the goat from head to toe, at every angle. The computer program generated life sized measurements of Lilly from these scans. The wheelchair will be customized to fit Lilly right where she needs it.
The school uses technology from 3D Platform (formerly 3DP Unlimited) in their 3D printing lab, further illustrating the vast array of applications for the company’s 3D printers. It’s not all larger-than-life Frankenstein’s monster heads or life-sized selfies — 3D Platform allows for the care of goats, too!
We look forward to seeing photos of the wheelchair once it’s printed and fitted. For now, we can assume, because of 3D printing’s ability to mold devices to exact size specifications, that Lilly will be much happier with her new wheelchair while receiving the rehabilitation that she has been needing since birth. Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Goat Wheelchair forum on 3DPB.com.[Source: NECN]