Even though we as humans suffer when we see disabled people, the mere sight of an injured animal breaks ones heart even more. Given the fact that they cannot treat themselves as humans do and can, and therefore, appear to suffer more. Lucky for them and for us, there are hundreds of people on this planet who not only care about these animals in need, but move towards helping these disabled animals with numerous innovations, ideas and resources and to help them live again on all fours. A handful of initiatives have been taken to bring 3D printed prosthetics to handicapped people and now it is time to do the same for handicapped pets and animals.
One of those people is Jim Song, who works with e-NABLE, an organization with a community of hundreds of designers devoted to designing, improving and building rapid prototyping prosthetics for disabled children. Song is also acquainted with Prashant Gade, maker of rapid prototyping Bio Nick prosthetic arm. With his vast knowledge of both 3D printing and prosthetics, Song has decided to start up his own service called CAP- Computer Aided Pets Project, a type of e-NABLE only for pets.
The animal kingdom is benefitting highly from rapid prototyping prosthetics, and in lots of cases these animals are able to lead a normal life after being treated with prosthetics. Toucans are being provided with prosthetic beaks, penguins with prosthetic foot and many more for many other animals.
Even though the CAP project is fairly new, it is up and running and Song has already found several interested owners of injured pets. Just like e-NABLE, people who have disabled animals contact CAP, and are then provided with a volunteer who will then cater to the injured pet and design the customized prosthetics for it.
At the moment CAP is working to partner up with various organizations and numerous charities, not to mention gathering volunteers who are more than dedicated to aid these animals with the help of 3D printers. Song says their main goal at CAP is to aid the handicapped animals with affordable prosthetics so that they can lead a normal life, along with demonstrating the potential rapid prototyping has and its use in the medical industry. Similar to e-NABLE, CAP is constructing a database of rapid prototyping designs which can be downloaded and altered to fit the individual needs of individual animals. So far CAP has received requests for wheelchairs for canines, cats and other animals with no front or hind legs, forelimb prosthetics and eagle foots and stork legs.
Until now CAP has set up in three different places- Rancho Cucamonga, California; Tokyo, Japan and lastly one in Beijing, China. Once contacted by a pet owner or animal lover, workers at CAP strive to gather volunteers together in order to find solutions and come up with prosthetic designs. This usually ends in constructing many devices over long periods of time since animals cannot speak or express how they feel about the prosthetics.
What’s more, CAP is not only designing, but sharing their designs on their website making it global, to help other animal owners in whatever way possible and making them aware of CAP services. The FiGo is a large rapid prototyped wheel chair for animals without rear legs, invented by designer Rickee, which was originally created for a French bulldog. Numerous others like Fricis Pirtnieks’s Stork Prosthesis as well as Eagle foot have also been created afterwards and are now available for owners of injured eagles and dogs.
According to Josemivaz, creator of forelimb prosthetics, the designs are lightweight, single piece, comfortable, and of course affordable for pet owners. These are printed using nylon to give it some flexibility and resistance. The CAP team says two fore legged wheelchairs have also been designed in various sizes by Brex480 and Diacov.
This great initiative of CAP started off greatly but a lot more can be done by the launch of their website. The website launch is expected to create a larger demand for rapid prototyping prosthetics and solve problems of animals around the world. Currently CAP is searching for volunteers with or without 3D printing experiences to lend both themselves and animals in need a helping hand. If a volunteer is unaware or inexperienced with 3D printers they can always spread awareness and aid in other areas.
A slight problem arises with these procedures which is simply natural in that they require lots of trial and error runs to make sure your pet can move about freely in a way similar to how they did pre-injury. With enough effort, technology, and new designs, as well as, not to mention hundreds of volunteers working for this initiative, it would be impossible to not give these disabled animals the pleasure of walking again. Many thanks to all these generous volunteers and the help of 3D printers and rapid prototyping technology which makes it all possible.
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