While greyhounds can also be wonderful, affectionate pets, most people know them as the dogs that run fast. Greyhounds are, indeed, incredibly fast, but Millie, a young greyhound in Australia, lost her ability to run like the wind when she lost one of her front paws due to an injury when she was a puppy. She was left by a breeder at a greyhound rescue, where she was adopted by architect Ed Dieppe and his wife Nora – which was lucky for her, because the Dieppes were dedicated to doing everything they could to make sure that Millie could have a normal life.
They were told that they might need to amputate Millie’s entire leg, but instead they worked to get her a prosthetic leg. As Millie grew and put wear and tear on her leg, it no longer fit, so her family needed to buy her another one – and then another one. Eventually, the amount of money they spent on Millie’s prosthetics approached $10,000.
In his work as an architect, Dieppe had already become familiar with 3D modeling, so he began exploring the possibility of designing a paw for Millie and 3D printing it himself. He reached out to Autodesk for help, and used Fusion 360 to design a leg that would fit his dog perfectly. A company called Reality 3D Printing, based in Queensland, 3D printed the prosthetic whenever he needed to try it out or make adjustments.
“Throughout the design process, collaboration was easy,” Autodesk reports as Matthew McKnight from the team helped Dieppe with the project. “With cloud-based software, it didn’t matter that Matthew was based in Melbourne while Ed was in Sydney doing the adjustments, 3D printing and fitting the prosthesis on Millie.”
The final prosthetic was 3D printed on an Ultimaker 3 with a co-polyester plastic called CPE, which according to Autodesk makes it “super lightweight and easy to put on.” Now Millie can walk and run easily, playing with her fellow dogs and racing around like any other greyhound. If the prosthetic, a boot that slides over her leg, breaks or gets worn out, Dieppe can simply 3D print another one, either on his own 3D printer or through the service bureau.
“From concept to delivery the process could not have been better,” said Dieppe. “With the previous adaptations of Millie’s prosthetics we have never been able to develop the design before the prosthetics have gone into production, often leaving us with surprise outcomes. But being able to review the design in 3D with Fusion 360, we had the opportunity to workshop the design live, pick up any potential design flaws and quickly prototype new parts. The results have been amazing and Millie is taking to her new prosthetic incredibly well!”
Millie also gains a unique distinction with her new leg – she’s thought to be the first dog in Australia with a 3D printed paw. There have been many other dogs around the world that have benefited from 3D printed prosthetic legs, which allow them to live normal lives even after having lost more than one limb. 3D printed prosthetics tend to be more comfortable, as they can be prototyped and tested until they fit perfectly. They’re easy to replace or repair, and they are drastically less expensive than traditional prosthetics, as the Dieppes can attest to.
Millie can put as much wear on it as she likes without her owners having to worry about spending thousands of dollars on a replacement.
“She likes the fit and feel of this one much more than any of her other prosthetics,” said McKnight. “It’ll probably take her a little while to get used to.”
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