The veterinarian profession requires creative thinking and problem solving especially when working with a variety of animals. Since animals can range in size and shape, each animal may need a custom made device. Many veterinarians have turned to 3D printing to help them make exactly what they need to save or improve their patients lives.
#Dymka's New Legs
A cat found in southwestern Siberia was suffering from frostbite which lead to the amputation of all four of its legs. This rescued cat, Dymka, was assisted by Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia and a group of veterinarians. CT scans were used to help create the prosthetic and figure out how the legs would be implanted. The legs were then 3D printed out of titanium. See more about Dymka and to see just how cute she is in the video below.
Just like prosthetic devices casts can be customized with 3D printing technology. Certain tricky situations such as broken bones in the head can be difficult to hold in place with traditional methods. 3D printed canine masks are used to hold the broken bones in a dog's head in place while being custom fit to make them more comfortable for the injured dog.
Not just cats and dogs can benefit from 3D printed prosthesis. The subject of the children's book Beauty and the Beak, a bald eagle received a 3D printed beak after she was shot in the beak by a poacher. Due to the injury sustained, Beauty was unable to eat or drink on her own. Beauty was taken in by Birds of Prey Northwest in Idaho and was fitted with the 3D printed beak until her own beak was able to grow back enough for her to eat with out the prosthesis.
#Save the Rhinos
The next application of 3D printing is more about conservation than veterinary application. A startup company out of Seattle named, Pembient, is working to bio-engineer printable rhino horn to discourage poaching. The horn printed by Pembient is identical on a cellular level, but is a little less durable than the real thing, making it difficult to tell what is real and what is fake. They hope that by creating a cheaper alternative it would drive prices down in the black market. This method is reliant on poachers not making enough profit to make it worthwhile for them to kill rhinos. However, many are concerned that this method would bring more attention to the material and cause more rhino deaths. Due to traditions thousands of years old their is a demand for rhino horn that can bring up to $60,000 per pound on the black market. Pembient wants to meet that demand with their material that requires no harm to animals.