Traditionally made prosthetic devices can cost the disabled community thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, to have custom designed. But in the last few years 3D printing has completely revolutionized how prosthetic devices for humans are designed and manufactured. 3D scanners, design software and inexpensive 3D printers can now produce functional prosthetic and assistive devices for people missing limbs or with limited mobility for hundreds of dollars or less. That means that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world will have access to prosthetics who previously would never have been able to afford them.
But it turns out that people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this low-cost prosthetic revolution. More and more pets and animals are being helped with affordable 3D printed prostheses, and we here at 3DPrint.com have probably covered them all. But don’t let the headlines fool you; thousands of disabled pets are still euthanized or living lower qualities of lives because their owners either don’t know how to get 3D printed prosthetics, or simply can’t afford them. Quality of life is, of course, something that always needs to be considered when pets are born with birth defects, but often times these pets can live long and happy lives just with some assistance. A new Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign launched a few weeks ago, called Pawsthetics, is looking to do just that.
It all started with Turbo, a four-week-old puppy born without front legs that was surrendered to a Indianapolis veterinarian’s office back in 2014. Everyone fell instantly for little Turbo, especially vet tech Ashley and her boyfriend Ray, who decided to adopt him. Seeing the need to provide him with a way to get around, Ashley and Ray used some toy parts to build him a small mobility cart. When a local news station ran a story about Turbo and his cart the story quickly made its way across the internet and found its way to an aerospace engineer in San Diego who decided to 3D print a better cart for him. After becoming a bit of a spokespup for 3D printed assistive devices for disabled pets, Ashley and Ray started their own company TurboRoo – after little Turbo – and teamed up with Denver, Colorado’s 3D Printing Store to help other pets in need.
“Pawsthetics is an idea that was spawned because both TurboRoo and The 3D Printing Store saw a broad need to help animals of all kinds to overcome injuries or handicaps that hinder their lifestyle. We are happy to improve and in some cases, save lives with our services. We have an excited team of people with great experience and big hearts. We can’t wait to get to work helping as many animals as we can! We just need your help to do so,” 3D Printing Store’s Justin Finesilver told to me via email.
The Indiegogo campaign for Pawsthetics was launched to help raise funds for the new nonprofit business to get off the ground and start helping other animal owners who have pets with special needs. The organization will be similar to e-NABLE, which helps 3D print low-cost hand prostheses for people in need, by asking potential clients to pay what they can. According to Finesilver, they will, of course, consider donations based on need, so even if some pet owners can’t afford the cost Pawsthetics will do their best to help them. They also ask those who can help to ‘pay it forward’ so to speak and help fund prosthetics for other pet owners who cannot afford them.
To start, Pawsthetics will keep all of the design and fabrication of the prostheses in-house using the resources, equipment and designers who work for The 3D Printing Store. They have been the exclusive designers of for TurboRoo for six months, and have a full staff capable of doing all of the 3D scanning, 3D designing and 3D printing that their clients need. In addition to the experience of vet tech Ashley, Pawsthetics will be assembling an advisory board full of veterinarians, animal experts and professionals to guide their growth and assist in the design of any prostheses or assistive devices that need to be customized.
And it isn’t only cats and dogs who they will be helping; Pawsthetics believes that all pets deserve a chance to live a happy and healthy life, including tortoises and other reptiles and even guinea pigs and rodents. The organization receives several requests a week for all types of pets, and currently they are designing and developing several new devices including three-legged dog carts, ACL and front leg stability leg braces, and even small animal versions of their carts and braces for rabbits and lizards. They’re also developing wound covers that will prevent pets from chewing and biting at their wound, unintentionally making them worse. And not only would the wound covers prevent further injury, but would allow free flowing air to reach it in order to promote faster healing.
The Pawsthetics campaign launched about two weeks ago and is expected to run until early January. While they are seeking $50,000 to start up, the campaign is using the flexible funding option so every dollar will go directly to helping the charity grow. TurboRoo and The 3D Printing Store ask that if you can’t afford to help them out to please share their campaign on social media in order to get the word out about what Pawsthetics is and what they are trying to do for disabled pets. Let’s hear your thoughts on this initiative in the Pawsthetics Forum on 3DPB.com.