A Dog Walks (And Runs) for the First Time, Thanks to 3D Printing

Derby, a rescue dog born with deformed front legs and unable to walk, is now running around with his new family on prosthetic legs thanks to a collaboration between printing company 3D Systems and Animal Ortho Care.

Tara Anderson, an employee at 3D Systems and dog fosterer for Peace and Paws Rescue, offered to take Derby in until he found a family. Anderson initially fitted Derby for a front wheelchair, but thought her company could create a better alternative, so she reached out to Animal Orthotics Care for their expertise.

"I didn't want to be too optimistic because he had a bilateral deformity, and those are just tough cases," said Derrick Campana, certified orthotist at Animal Orthotics Care. "But he really wanted to walk. He was trying to walk on his deformities before his wheelchair. When I saw him run for the first time, I almost cried." 

With Campana's help, 3D Systems was able make cast molds of Derby's legs and use scanning technology to modify and sculpt ergonomic sockets before printing the custom-fit prosthetics. Compared to traditional prosthetics, the 3D printers offered more accurate measurements and faster adjustments to provide a better fit. And should Derby wear out his new legs, a new set of prosthetics can be fired off based from his file. You just can't keep a good dog down.

"I always knew there were great options for Derby," said Melissa Hannon, owner of Peace and Paws Rescue. "He is living proof that deformities for dogs are not a death sentence. He has everything in life that I could have wanted for him."