How 3D Printing Changed This Dog's Life!


 So this is Cleo

and as you can probably immediately tell,

Cleo is an awesome dog.

She's one of the nicest dogs I've ever met.

She loves people, anyone that'll give her any food.

She's pretty classic dog stuff

and she also happens to be missing her right leg.

She was found on Petfinder after she spent some time

as a stray in Oklahoma with injuries from unknown causes.

Now hanging out with Cleo and just playing with her,

like you'd almost forget like you wouldn't even know

that she's missing a leg 'cause she's just running around,

chasing stuff, playing fetch,

She loves being outdoors, all that classic dog stuff.

But although she appears super healthy now,

dogs that are missing limbs

and any pets that are missing limbs

are more likely to have things like arthritis

and joint problems in their other limbs later in life

'cause they're compensating for the missing limb.

So she's running around being awesome now,

but it would be ideal for her long term to be supported

So that's where this company called 3D Pets comes in.

So they reached out and they told me

They have a particularly high-tech solution

to the problem and asked if I wanted to go see it

and it turns out it is pretty sick.

I mean, I've already talked about this before,

but there's tech in everything.

Like every story, every angle, everything I see

on the news nowadays, it has some tech in it,

but even this story surprised me just

How much tech was involved in helping dogs like Cleo?

So it's this multi-step process.

First up is this scan.

So the pet comes into their studio,

which is actually in New Jersey,

pretty close to our video studio

and they use a smartphone

to 3D scan the animal.

So the idea is to take a few scans,

They use the iPhone's LIDAR scanner

or use the true depth camera system or both.

This isn't exactly what they were designed for,

but with apps like Combed and Hedges,

It is a pretty clever solution for just basic measuring.

So basically once you get Cleo

to hold still for long enough,

You can get a pretty decently accurate scan

of her dimensions.

How high off the ground she is,

how far around, the shape of the prosthesis,

what that needs to be, et cetera

and all of this is to be used in the next step,

which is 3D printing the prosthesis, it's crazy.

Now you might be thinking

like I was at the beginning of this, wait a second,

Why is there so much tech being used in this process?

Like why is it 3D scanning the animal

and then 3D printing the prosthesis?

What's going on here?

And the real answer

As they explained to me is because

Every single animal's situation is a little bit different.

No two are the same

whether it's the reason that they lost a limb

or part of the limb,

But then just like the size of the animal, how big are they?

How far off the ground does the limb end?

How much weight are they going be able to put on it?

All these different things are slightly different

for every single animal, it's kind of like a fingerprint.

So clearly you can't just mass produce

like one size fits all prosthetic.

Even with humans,

You know this is already true,

but the idea is you want it to be as custom and bespoke

and comfortable for every single animal as possible

so this 3D printing process allows

for rapid reiteration and making a couple of different versions

till you get it exactly right

and so this is why they're doing it this way.

3D pets, in particular, they've worked with

over 300 different animals so far at their studio.

They start with a candidacy form on their website.

But then once they get going, they have a ton of options.

To date, they've done many dogs as pets,

but also some ducks, a tortoise, and a pig.

They had a goat recently that was missing part of its skull

that didn't form properly and goats like to use their heads

for stuff obviously

so they made a helmet for him and one elephant leg recently.

So anyway, Cleo's scan is pretty straightforward

and within five minutes they have a couple

decently accurate models to work with

and then they import it into the computer

to move to step two.

So how do you get the scan off the phone?

- Well that's the easy part.

We get the scan off the phone onto our web portal,

which we're able to bring

into a custom design software here

where that's really where the magic happens,

where we're able to take a design

and mold it to the 3D scan of each pet

so that we can make sure everything fits perfectly.

- So this is Cleo's scan,

and the appropriate fit as it would be built on the scan?

- Right, so you can see the scan overlaid

and we can patch things up as needed.

It's almost like 3D Photoshop in a way,

but then we're able to control the lattice,

the hardware mounts, where the straps go,

We can position everything perfectly for each pet.

And then once we're happy, once it's set,

Then we bring it into another software

where this is where we optimize it for printing.

So we have to be able to basically

Give the printer instructions on what to make.

So this is where we fine-tune

the intricacies and the detail of each layer

'cause again, we want some areas to be nice

and rigid where hardware mounts, for example.

But like around the rib cage, around the lungs,

We want the flexibility

So you can see we don't have that thick lattice there.

This over here, these wings we can easily bend

Even if the dog fluctuates in weight,

We want it to accommodate those changes.

But where the mount is, where the hardware is on this end,

this we want to be sturdy and strong

'cause that's where the impact is.

So once we're happy with this, once it's ready to go,

We'll take it over to one of the 3D printers

and we have a whole bunch of different sizes

depending on the case, depending on the animal,

but they're all pretty similar in how they work.

- So 3D printing, to be perfectly honest,

I never really cared that much about 3D printing.

This is like a confession.

Like I never...

There was a ton of hype about it

and a lot of people care a lot about it,

but every time I was brought up to me,

I couldn't find a reason to care

and we got a 3D printer at the studio

and we've printed a couple of random trinkets here and there,

mostly things that are just like useless stuff

just to see if it'll work.

Whatever, neat, but this is the first time

I've seen a situation where 3D printing makes

the most sense for a manufacturing process.

You can't do one single mold,

You can't do one-size-fits-all all

so like I said,

It just made the most sense for once.

They have a couple of different size printers here

ranging from something like an Anker M5,

something you might buy on Amazon

up to an industrial-sized one,

the size of a refrigerator, basically to work

on different-sized pieces for different animals.

So once they were happy with Cleo's design

of the prosthesis in the software, it hits the printer

And about literally 24 hours later, it's done,

It's printed, the whole thing.

Now this isn't the final step for hers.

There is still a sanding-down process to soften the corners

and make it as comfortable as possible

and also in 3D printing,

There are commonly these support pieces that you get

When you print oddly shaped objects that need to be cut off

And they're working on ways to melt that down

and use it in other things like wheels or feet

so they can be resourceful about that as well,

but they've shown me a bunch of examples of various shapes

and sizes of things they've printed for animals in the past.

- So this one is just about ready to ship out.

This dog has a residual limb.

So we have this build out here and we do it like this

so that we can keep the weight-bearing load

right below where the limb used to be.

If we have it in any other place,

They just won't be able to walk correctly.

- And this is also now softened down

and it is just sanded?

- We do a sand and torch.

So we'll burn the material back

like what the machine is doing, heating it up

to a melting temperature, it smooths it out.

And something that we're very well known for

with our devices are our feet.

And so one of the biggest things is when the dogs

are taking steps, you want that foot to be able to compress

to absorb that.

I'll trade you.

I think this is a version like five or six of the foot

And we're on version 10 or 12 of the harness

so they're constantly changing and adapting.

If somebody reaches out to us and they say,

I burned through a foot, here are the reasons why,

We're gonna make the changes to the foot

so that stops happening.

And so that's why we go through our variations.

We're working on the next version of the foot,

which has rounder edges

so more of a radius on these edges.

- Like a tire maybe?

- Yeah, yeah, exactly like a tire

because dogs tend to lean on one side or the other

and we'll typically have the owners flip it around

Once they start to wear on one side

so it wears evenly.

- A tire rotation?

- Exactly, a foot rotation.

And then behind you, we have some of our carts

that are in process too.

So this is one going down to a dog in Texas.

She's got two deformed limbs.

One is not formed at all,

but she's got one deformed here on the left-hand side.

So we make provisions for that

so that the shoulders can still move around.

So that'll get three six-inch wheels on each corner.

And then this, this is another good example.

This is for a dachshund that has one full remaining leg

and had a partial amputation.

And so the owners didn't want something extremely bulky,

but they wanted that front leg to have support

'cause dachshunds have a lot of back problems.

So we designed this specifically for this case

where the dachshund can put its legs and move it

and still have the support on the outer edges

and we still have our flexible harness here.

And the wheels can change camber as well too

so depending on--

- Sport mode.

- And we'll go up to eight or 10-inch wheels.

I think you saw this one.

- That Escalade dogs.

- We should do spinners on one of these rooms

one of these days honestly.

I haven't put it past people.

The woman that we did our original dachshund cart for,

She saw our black wheels and she was like,

I'd like silver rims, please,

and I thought she was joking.

I thought she was joking

and I was like, oh, that's a cool idea.

She was like, no, really I want silver wheels.

- Would you paint it or would you--

- We ended up painting it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

- So, Cleo's scan was pretty good.

Then they designed her prosthesis

around that scan, which went great.

Then they printed it, sanded it, torched it down, and matched it with the leg for her height.

The only step left now is to see how it works.

So what I kind of didn't realize is

It's not just like you attach the prosthesis to the dog

And then they just magically start running around perfectly

like they've had it their whole life.

But no, like anyone who's had crutches knows this,

There's an adjustment process

as you get more and more used to it.

So I got to watch Cleo sort of learn in real time

even in just these few minutes, go from hovering it

off the ground to eventually start to trust it.

And the process of them getting used to it

Depending on the pet is basically to introduce them

to more and more time per day with it

so that they eventually get used to living with it.

Maybe 20 minutes a day at the beginning,

Then it's an hour a day, then two hours a day

and you slowly see them start to remap their muscle memory

and unlearn walking without the limb

and trust it and depend on it by the end.

So at the end of the day, I thought this was super cool

It's a huge win for pets like Cleo

And it's also super cool

that it's enabled by tech that feels relatively accessible,

like a phone in our pocket, a computer app,

one or two pieces of software and then 3D printers

Like all things that we can get started with,

That's how they got started with building this studio

in New Jersey and helping so many pets

and they will continue to evolve this.

There are other places around the country

in the world doing the same sort of thing,

but they potentially can do remote creations

for pets that don't come to the studio

but they get to like send a mold in

and then build a prosthesis for other animals

they don't even get to see.

I'm not even gonna pretend to be an expert

on 3D printing or prosthesis,

But like hopefully this helps more animals

sort of extend their lives and live more freely

I think that is the right word.

These pieces are typically priced

from a couple of 100 bucks to up to 1,000 or $2,000

and ideally will last a lifetime

at least if they've stopped growing.

So thanks to 3D Pets

for letting me pull back the curtain a little bit

into how they use tech to do what they do.

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