An adorable two-legged Chihuahua puppy in Indianapolis recently got a new set of wheels from a stranger with a 3-D printer. TurboRoo, who was born without his front legs, was too young and small to be fitted for a normal dog cart, so a mechanical engineer designed him a custom-printed set of wheels.
A fundraising campaign for a new cart for the Chihuahua caught the attention of Mark Deadrick, the president of a 3dyn, a San Diego-based design and fabrication shop that creates prototypes and parts for clients like //Space X. Unable to get a 3-D scan of the puppy, he whipped up a design based on photos, and churned out a prototype in a couple hours. The orange-and-green cart consists of a plastic sling for the dog to rest in, and rollerblade wheels to allow him to roll around.
"I just did some thumbnail measurements from photos and spent about 20 minutes designing a cart, hit print on one of our 3-D printers and let it run for 4 hours," Deadrick wrote in an email to a local Indianapolis news station. "I figured some inline wheels would have the least amount of resistance and would be easily obtained, so a trip to the sporting goods store was probably the most time consuming part."
Deadrick has sent three different versions of the dog cart to Indianapolis (the first two weren't exactly the right size, so while TurboRoo could push himself around, he needed helping hand to do so). TurboRoo's owner, Ashley Looper, is now trying to get a good 3-D scan of the puppy so Deadrick can create a better-fitting model, and they're working on a system that's easier to turn than the current four-wheeled cart.
The speed and ease with which Deadrick put together a customized medical device for a puppy he'd never seen suggests that 3-D printing may have substantial potential for veterinary medicine. Dogs often can't be fitted for carts until they're about six months old, and they need upgraded equipment as they grow. But traditional carts are expensive--a large, adjustable dog cart can run nearly $500--and look pretty much like moving cages for your pet. A 3-D printed device, by contrast, is more easily customized for very small dogs and puppies, and cheaper to manufacture and replace as the dog grows. (Deadrick says the plastic material only cost him $3.50.) And, if TurboRoo's little cart is any indication, way more stylish.