Luisa the dog had a very tough start in life. Her mother, a stray dog in Italy, gave birth to a litter of pups on a property where they weren’t welcome to stay, so the members of an animal rescue group saved the mother and the five pups from being put to sleep.
One of those pups was Luisa, who born with small stumps rather than front legs, and once she made her way to Germany, Florian Rapp of the 3D printer manufacturer company Multec; Karin Bufe, a medical student; and Petra Rapp and Manuel Tosché, a married couple and experienced dog owners, set to work developing a 3D printed walking aid for Luisa.
It’s basically a chest plate and supporting components to fit her anatomy, and one challenge was to make the device in such a way that if offered the proper support even as Luisa grew from a puppy to an adult dog.
The durable and lightweight chest plate that forms the key component of Luisa’s ‘wheelchair’ was printed with a large, Multirap M420 3D printer from Multec.
Now the design the engineering team came up with is available as an open source device for anyone who wants to help a handicapped animal. The construction plan, the print data, and parts lists can all be downloaded from the Multec website or this Instructable the company published.
The final design of Luisa’s wheelchair is available in two sizes, created so she had room to grow from a puppy. The larger of them is also made up of several parts to allow for output on smaller 3D printers. Both designs are adjustable in every aspect such as width, height, and wheel camber.
The original version of the chair requires aluminum tubes 18 x 1.5 mm, tube connectors (e.g., these available from from KIPP), wheels with a diameter of 250mm like those used for bicycle trailers or buggies which feature tube tires to absorb shock and allow for adjustments to tire pressure, an axle to connect the wheels to the wheelchair, a soft foam inlay, fasteners, and belts to hold the dog firmly in the chair, as well as a few bolts and nuts.
The group say they spent €130 (just under $150 USD) for all the necessary parts.
Most of the major components were printed in PLA rather than ABS to minimize warping, and an additional wheel with the necessary mounting can be included as well.
Do you know a dog like Luisa who could use a wheelchair to improve quality of life? Let us know in the 3D Printed Wheelchair for a Handicapped Dog forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out a video of Luisa getting used to it, as well as more photos, below.