Holly’s Christmas wish comes true: Horse takes first step in 3D printed ‘horse-thotics’

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3D printed ‘horse-thotics’.
CSIRO's team of 3D printing experts worked with horse podiatrists to scan Holly's feet and design the 'horse-thotic.

Transcript

[Image shows presenter walking with a pony out of a shed]

So Holly’s a ten year old riding pony, and she’s had laminitis for about three years.  And so laminitis is basically the inflammation between the attachment between the hoof wall and the bone that lives inside.  

[Image changes to presenter]

And so that attachment is similar to what our fingernail is like attaching to our finger.  So basically the attachment’s inflamed, and there’s pain associated with that, and what we try to do with a horse like that is try and make them comfortable and grow a normal foot again.

When it comes to shoes, we design the shoe specifically for that horse.  We looked at the x-rays and decided that we wanted a shoe that had... gave that foot some elevation at the heel, but we also wanted to break over easy, so when the horse steps there’s a nice fluent rolling motion.

And so when we looked at the x-ray, looked at the horse, then went back and designed the shoe, it was all around these parameters, the horse, the x-rays, what the foot looked like, and then we went and designed it. 

So what we’re hoping for is that that shoe is in the optimum position, and is designed to relieve the tension surrounding that foot, particularly at the front where the majority of the laminitis occurs along the front hoof wall.

[Video of horse’s hoof being scanned with a 3D scanner]

We took that information from the 3D scanner and from the x-rays back to the CSIRO lab, and we designed the shoe specifically for the horse.

[Image shows a man working at a computer, image then changes to a door being opened and a cast being removed from inside a machine then the cast is placed in a sand blasting box and is cleaned off, image then changes to the presenter]

What this technology is going to do is enable us to manage these horses in a better way.  We’re going to be able to produce a shoe of high quality, with good durability, and biomechanically you know sort of support that foot and try and rehabilitate it over a period of time.

[Video of shoe being fitted to the horse, and then the horse walking around an enclosure]

I was super happy with how she was walking, happy with the shoe placement, and she seems very comfortable, so that’s a really good start. 

So I think what that means for Holly, she’s got a good chance, if we manage her in this manner for a period of time, that she could live comfortably in those sort of shoes, and live out her life, and do what she needs to do. 

She can definitely walk better.  And I think, you know, just even initially she looks like she’s walking better, so that’s a good start.