You’ve probably seen a dog like Ziggy before. No, I don’t mean a Border Collie. I don’t mean a dog who is missing a leg or more. I mean, Ziggy’s probably not the first dog you’ve seen with 3D-printed legs.
Saved from the streets of Australia by a couple willing to give him a home, Ziggy was rescued with a broken leg that ended up being amputated. Not that this kept Ziggy down! He still loved to play despite his missing leg, but all that play slowly wore on his other limbs.
For Ziggy now, the problem is arthritis. But 3D-printing has helped Ziggy in a big way, just as it’s resolved a lot of walking issues for a lot of dogs of varying conditions.
Nimble the Chihuahua was born without legs, but the ease with which a 3D printer creates prosthetic limbs has allowed Nimble to be more, well, nimble.
Even though Nimble looked like she was doing fine on her own!
Similarly, Bubbles the two-legged Dachshund found new life with her new legs.
You can see how well she runs around after equipping herself with some new 3D printed legs!
So what gives? Why are we seeing soooooo many pups receive prosthetics in modern times? Dogs with disabilities have been around since long before 3D printing. Why weren’t people in a rush to build prosthetic limbs for dogs from existing, old school technologies?
In a nutshell, it’s easier and cheaper today than it’s ever been. 3D printing has simply overcome many of the old manufacturing methods, as well as their cost.
Once upon a time, to make custom prosthetic limbs or wheels for just one dog would have required the power and resources of an entire assembly line. That means someone would have had to design the prosthetics, someone else would craft the tools and dyes necessary to mold the parts, then a whole other group of people would have had to run the assembly that made them. Basically, you would have needed a whole factory.
But thanks to 3D printing, if you have a designer capable of running the printer, you require even fewer resources to make stuff.
I can’t help but suspect that it also has something to do with dogs being more popular in the United States than ever before. They’ve got their own jobs, their own TV shows, and most dog owning American’s don’t consider themselves “owners” at all. That’s right, we’re talking about dog parents. People are willing to go to greater lengths today than ever to help their dogs. Technology has only made that easier.