Xavier University Gives Dog New 3D Printed Leg—Thanks To New MakerBot Innovation Center

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logoThe Xavier MakerBot Innovation Center, the opening of which it seems we just reported on yesterday, has finished a wonderful new project already—and it’s one of those heartwarming stories we love reporting on, as a Cincinnati, Ohio dog has a new lease—or, um, leash—on life.

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It’s a big story for a dog named Tiny, born with only half a right front leg. Demonstrating right away the community connections that are formed with the MakerBot Innovation Centers, Tiny’s foster parent, Laurie Maier, was contacted only hours after reaching out to Xavier University in March for helping Tiny. As a service dog provider, her interest was not only in providing Tiny with a better life, but also in allowing her to be a working dog in the future. To do that, Maier knew her only hope was a prosthetic leg.

Students were interested not only in hanging out with Tiny, a friendly golden retriever, but also in creating a 3D printed prosthetic for the lucky canine, whose visits they very much looked forward to.

“It’s like, OK, she’s coming in today, and you see people smile, and it’s like, we’ve been working on these things, now we get to try them with the dog,” mathematics and computer science Professor Gary Lewandowski said.

For the Introduction to Making class, Tiny’s new leg became the semester project back in March as students were given the inspiring and challenging task of completing a partial leg using one of the 31 MakerBot Replicator 3D printers available in the lab.

With hopes to have it finished by May, the class finished well ahead of time yesterday, April 29th, with the immediate reward of watching their now four-legged friend locomote more easily for the first time.

7610677_GThe class also had help from Xavier graduate and prosthetist Christine Geeding, who was able to help the students with the basics as they worked through a few different prototypes.

 “It was a great opportunity to work with the Xavier students and Tiny,” said Geeding. “It was fascinating to explore 3D printing and how it relates to prosthetics.”

With Tiny still young, at the tender age of only 10 months, the students and all involved have given this dog the opportunity for a very full life. While she was able to get around more easily as a younger and lighter puppy, after a while her three legs simply were not able to hold up her growing weight as she evolved into a medium- to larger-sized dog. The 3D printed prosthetic not only doggave Tiny a huge opportunity, but it presented the class with an enormous learning opportunity to work on something they’d never done before.

Tiny will have help in learning how to walk on the new leg efficiently, and soon will be working as a service dog for Four Paws for Mobility—giving back to the community that has truly given her so much with the technology of 3D printing.

We reported on this new MakerBot Innovation Center recently, as the university, home to more than 6,000 students, had embarked on their purchase of 31 new Replicators to be used for further immersing their students in the innovation of digital design and 3D printing. While there was some trepidation at first, as many wondered whether this fairly costly venture into technology was something ‘that would really stick,’ they are certainly on their way today to proving it with Tiny’s lovely new 3D printed leg. Way to go, Xavier—and all involved.

Discuss Tiny and her new 3D printed leg in the 3D Printed Leg for Dog forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

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