In recent years, 3D printing has established itself as a serious competitor to mechanical manufacturing processes such as turning or milling in the manufacturing industry .
Thanks to aspiring veterinarian Maciej Szczepański, the additive manufacturing process can now also be used to produce prostheses for injured animals . Prostheses for animals are not yet available to the required extent all over the world due to high costs. That could change with the new approach of the student from Wrocław.
Szczepański himself makes the prostheses . It always starts the same way. The patient , for example a dog, must trust the prospective veterinarian . Only then does he continue with the impression of the stump of the animal. The impression is filled with a special ceramic plaster. Szczepański then 3D scans the resulting stump impression so that a 3D digital model can be created.
“All I have to do later is print the prototype , which makes my job a lot easier because I can print right there and check that my assumptions are correct. I don't have to outsource this work anymore." – emphasizes Szczepański.
The student can also use the 3D printer to test different levels of infill and assess the durability of the printed part. Printed components include a shaft that receives the dog's stump and a ground contact element . Maciej explains: “For the base I choose the solid infill option , while the 'foot' has a slightly higher infill density than normal.
After 3D printing, he places his model in a designated station to dissolve the support structures . Finally, the three components of the prosthesis are connected together by screws and a layer of fabric is placed inside the 3D-printed socket to increase comfort for the dog.
The prosthesis is now ready to be worn by the dog. A great advantage is the short period of time in which the prosthesis can be made and given to the animal in need. This takes no more than 3 days .
And Szczepański's work brings the desired effect. The dogs can fully enjoy their freedom of movement again . An interesting fact is that Leto, one of the dogs he takes care of, adapted to his prosthetics within 15 minutes of fitting himself . He accepts it and moves in it almost like a healthy dog.