The capabilities for 3-D printing are almost endless. Everything from bike frames to chocolate are being created by the technology. But now, 3-D printing is being used for an extremely important mission: to help outfit a handicapped Chihuahua with a set of wheels so he can get around.
Meet TurboRoo, an adorable little pup that was born without his front legs. A breeder dropped off Roo at a veterinarian's office in Indiana, where one of the technicians ended up adopting him. The Chihuahua used to get around with an older apparatus made from a hodgepodge of parts. An online fund-raising page asked for donations so that a new cart could be bought for the dog, and it ended up raising over $3,000. Roo's fund-raiser caught the eye of Mark Deadrick, president of the 3-D printing company 3dyn. Deadrick printed a wheelchair and added rollerblade wheels, a perfect little contraption to enable the hound to roll around in.
With the tailored wheelchair, Roo's owners no longer have to worry about building something for their doggy dearest. And thanks to the low cost of 3-D printing, a new wheelchair can be made if Roo goes through a growth spurt, and other designers can make modifications. Deadrick himself has printed three models of the wheelchair, continuing to make design improvements. The mechanical engineer didn't even get a chance to measure or scan Roo in person. Instead, he took thumbnail measurements of the pooch from photos.
There are various other ways 3-D printing has been used to help animals. Last year, Buttercup the duck was able to walk again thanks to a 3-D printed silicone foot. And in 2012, a bald eagle named Beauty was given a 3-D printed beak after poachers damaged her original one. Between human organs being printed and Roo's new wheelchair, it looks like 3-D printing technology can be both man's and dog's best friend.