Holly, a 10-year-old mare has been suffering for more than three years from a chonic foot disease which makes walking a very painful activity. Therefore, scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have used 3D printing to create new titanium horseshoes for the animal.
The illness of which the horse suffered is called laminitis and it causes inflammation between the hoof and the bone, which makes each walk a painful activity. In order to fix this problem, doctors scanned her damaged hoofs and 3D printed carefully tailored titanium horseshoes. The so-called horse-thotic aims to support the foot and plays a big encouraging role in the healing process of the foot. They redistribute weight away from the painful areas in order to make each walk a more comfortable activity.
Holly tried her “new shoes” on December 18 and Dr Luke Wells-Smith from CSIRO thinks she should be walking normally without pain in just a few weeks. “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”, says Wells-Smith. The 3D printed titanium horseshoe was used earlier this year by CSIRO for horse races, and in October they claimed this titanium shoe would weight 50 percent less than standard cast-aluminium shoes. This made Wells-Smith think about using the same technique for disabled horses.
He has said that many attempts have been made in the past to cure Laminitis but it’s the 3D scanning and design part of this process that was so exciting to them. Scanning the hoof allowed them to accurately produce a perfectly fitted shoe for the horse. CSIRO’s 3D Printing expert John Barnes has said rehabilitation of horses has been a completely new area of work for CSIRO. “We’re glad that this technology is opening so many doors and is now helping to aid the rehab process for these animals and get them walking comfortably again.”