Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), in close collaboration with horse podiatrists, have successfully developed a custom designed 3D printed titanium horseshoe.
According to an article on ABC news, CSIRO 3D printing expert John Barns has labelled the undertaking as a “breakthrough for 3D printing technology”, which was about to open many doors to science and become valuable mainstream businesses in the near future.
“You can get an extraordinary amount of detail basically for free, which if you’re doing it conventionally that detail would cost a lot of money,” he said.
“The other area that is important is customisation – he (the podiatrist) can tell us the way he wants the show to be designed.”
According to him, scanning the hoof would allow experts to manufacture a shoe that is a “perfect fit” for complicated foot diseases, giving the horse a great chance for rehabilitation.
A media release by CSIRO revealed that its team of 3D experts worked with horse podiatrists to scan the mare’s feet and design the horse-thotic which was specially devised to support the hoof and enable it to heal without causing discomfort.
The mare called Holly has spent the last 3 yeas suffering from a debilitating disease called Laminitis, which affects the attachment between the hoof and the bone, causing pain and inflammation.
According to Dr Luke Wells-Smith from the Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre, his team had seen the 3D printed shoe CSIRO built for a race horse earlier this year and thought of using 3D printing to try and heal lame horses.
“The new shoes will work to redistribute weight away from the painful areas of the laminitic foot and give Holly, and horses like her, the chance to recover,” he said.
“Many attempts have been made in the past to cure laminitis but it’s the 3D scanning and design part of this process that is so exciting to us.”
Holly’s new shoes clearly demonstrate the range of applications the 3D printing technology can be used for. Scientists at CSIRO are helping companies use this innovative technology to create new applications such as biomedical implants and even automotive and aerospace parts.