Dem Bones Seeks to Revolutionize Veterinary Education with 3D Printed Canine Skeletons

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We’ve shared a lot of stories with you about the benefits that 3D printing has provided for medical education, for example the 3D anatomy series produced by Monash University. Now a project titled Dem Bones is underway to provide some of those same benefits to students studying veterinary medicine. Rather than relying on actual canine skeletons for study, Dem Bones has developed a complete set of bones that are all 3D printed. The bones have magnets at each of the joints in order to allow them a realistic freedom of movement and to also enable ease of disassembly and reassembly.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.17.01 PMThe team at Dem Bones grew out of a dissolved parent company that was put together by graduates from Oklahoma State University. The idea to create canine skeletal models for veterinary students was a result of efforts to understand niche markets that could benefit from the types of products made possible through 3D printing. The veterinary school at OSU was, at the time, in possession of only two canine skeletons despite the fact that the enrollment numbers continued to increase at a record level every year.

The greatest benefit to these 3D printed models is that they are significantly cheaper to purchase than the actual thing which can retail at upwards of $500. If you’re not a veterinary student, you probably never thought about that…or the fact that you can purchase such a thing on eBay. But veterinary schools across the country have to keep it in mind and given the climate for university funding these days, I imagine that the purchase of a dog’s skeleton might not be the easiest line item for which to loosen up funds.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.16.29 PMThe folks at Dem Bones were also interested in the way in which 3D printing these skeletons could help the students. So they have turned to Kickstarter, in a campaign running through September 16th, to help them begin larger scale production of these 3D printed medical models.

“We want to help students, the students who are already being bled dry by the price of course materials,” they say on their campaign. “We mention this because, after being funded, we plan on mass producing, which should drop our prices substantially. In short, we’re looking to take our canine skeletons from a prototype to a mass-produced product for students and educators alike.”

As such, they are asking for people to make pledges towards their $22,000 goal so that they can purchase Form1+ printers and replacement parts, FormLabs cast mold supplies, a high-quality 3D scanner, and have a $10,000 manufacturing retainer. The team decided that the FormLabs’ Form1+ printers were the right machines for the job after having seen what those machines can do.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.19.39 PM

“Printing these skeletons, we’ve dedicated production to FormLabs’ Form1+ series printers, which uses stereolithography technology, ‘the industry standard in delivering beautiful, functional parts that plastic extrusion printers just can’t match.’ The printer works by using a high precision optical system, which directs a laser across a tank of liquid resin, solidifying layers as thin as 25 microns. With the software, exceptionally intuitive, and the hardware, extremely accurate, it makes these the perfect printers for us,” they note.

The rewards for pledging to the project range from gratitude to a complete Skeleton 1.1 fresh off the printer – and at $250, still 50% less expensive than the professional set. If you can get over the slightly creepy feeling you are left with after hearing the eerie music that they have chosen to accompany their video (below), you might just be tempted to get one. Also, you don’t have to own the actual skeleton of a dog, which some might see as a significant benefit worthy in and of itself.

Will you be backing this campaign? Let us know in the Dem Bones forum thread on 3DPB.com Check out a video from the Dem Bones team below:

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