Scientists from the CSIRO have produced a set of purple titanium shoes for one Melbourne race horse using 3D printing technology.
The horse which was named “Titanium Prints” by the researchers had its hooves scanned with a handheld 3D scanner this week, according to the CSIRO news release.
A horse shoe is traditionally made from aluminium and can weigh up to one kilogram but trainer John Moloney said the ultimate race shoe should be as light as possible.
“Any extra weight in the horse shoe will slow the horse down. These titanium shoes could take up to half of the weight off a traditional aluminium shoe, which means a horse could travel at new speeds,” said Mr. Moloney.
“Naturally, we’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance from these shoes.”
The 3D scan was used to design the perfect fitting, lightweight racing shoe using a 3D modelling software. The precision scanning process takes just a few minutes and for a horse, shoes can be made to measure each hoof and printed the same day, according to CSIRO. Four customised were 3D printed within a matter of hours.
“There are so many ways we can use 3D titanium printing. At CSIRO we are helping companies create new applications like biomedical implants and even things like automotive and aerospace parts,” said CSIRO’s titanium expert John Barnes.
The 3D printed shoes for Titanium Prints is a first for the sport and is also a first for the scientists. Mr. Barnes said this demonstrates the range of applications that the technology can be used for.
“The possibilities really are endless with this technology,” he said.