Stamping out chronic foot disease in horses

We collaborated with veterinarians to create the first 3D printed horseshoe to put an end to chronic foot disease.

The Challenge

Finding a more effective treatment for Laminitis

Hooved animals such as horses can suffer from a debilitating disease called Laminitis, which affects the attachment between the hoof and bone, causing pain and inflammation.

Holly the horse, one of the horses benefiting from the 3D titanium horseshoe

Veterinarians from the Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre in Victoria diagnose Laminitis and develop treatment and management plans for horses.

After hearing about a 3D printed horseshoe we developed for a racehorse, the team at the centre saw an opportunity to use 3D printing to rehabilitate lame horses.

Our Response

Custom designing a shoe that can heal

The centre approached us with their ideas and together we investigated the opportunity to 3D print a shoe that could act as an orthotic.

Two purple horseshoes made form titanium

We used a 3D scanner to take an accurate picture of a horse's Laminitis-affected hoof and then customised a 3D printed shoe that would support the hoof and allow it to heal.

These new shoes redistribute weight away from the painful areas of the laminitic foot to give horses a better chance to recover.

The Results

A new biomedical application

These new shoes could hold the key to curing Laminitis, thanks to the ability to tailor the shoe's design to the individual horse.

It's a good example of how 3D printing technology is opening doors for companies to manufacture new biomedical products.

Holly's Christmas wish comes true with 'horse-thotics'

Show transcript

[Christmas bells play and title page appears with text: Holly's Christmas wish comes true. CSIRO logo appears]

[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.

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.

[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]

[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.

[Christmas bells play and CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

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