Skip To Content
  • win badge

This Incredible Dog Has A New Lease On Life Thanks To 3D Printing

Derby the dog, once fated to be euthanized, is living his best life with his forever family and sweet new legs.

This is Derby.

Via Facebook: Derby-Portanova

Born with deformities in both of his front legs, his original owners were at a loss of how to care for him and were going to send him to a shelter to be euthanized. In just over a year, Derby has gone from being doomed to getting a second chance at a full life with the help of 3D-printed prosthetics.

Derby was recovered by Peace and Paws Dog Rescue, whose owner, Melissa Aronson Hannon, told BuzzFeed Life that she had heard about him from a friend.

Peace and Paws / Via Facebook: media

He was brought to Peace and Paws in April, but his life completely changed when he was fostered by Tara Anderson (above), Director of CJP Product Management at 3D Systems in Massachusetts.

Though Derby was equipped with a set of wheels for running around, Anderson said that she could tell from the beginning that Derby was a high-energy dog who needed to be able to run and play a bit more freely.

Peace and Paws / Via Facebook: Derby-Portanova

With the help of her colleagues, Anderson began working on designing models for prosthetics for Derby. The process began with a CAT scan that gave them the data needed to turn thousands of layers of 2D photos of Derby's limbs into the 3D geometry that would then be printed, which then takes only a matter of hours.

TL;DR: Science.

3D Systems

Positive molds of Derby's elbows for the prosthetics.

3D Systems
3D Systems

In August, Derby was adopted by the Portanova family, who saw him through the rest of this printing process along with Anderson.

A few designs were experimented with until the birth of the "elbow cups", which the Portanova family said Derby took to with nothing but excitement, as you can see in the video above of his first ever run on the new prosthetics.

Stephanie Portanova told BuzzFeed Life, "We were amazed, he took off running."

3D Systems

He wears his elbow cups every afternoon for a little while so that he can run around and get all of his puppy energy out. The only issue that Derby had with the cups was that they were a little bit uncomfortable for him at first, and he got sore. However, Anderson and her team have had no issues making adjustments since then, and the Portanovas said that Derby is extremely adaptive and willing to try anything.

Anderson explained that the printing process used for Derby's prosthetics, called MultiJet printing, allows the production of a prosthetic containing both rigid and flexible materials.

Facebook: Derby-Portanova

Derby's Elbow Cups

It made it possible to have an ample amount of cushiness in the cup of the prosthetic for supporting Derby's elbow, as well as a perfect amount of rigidity for the treads on the rockers that would come in contact with the ground. Just like fluffy UGG slippers.

TL;DR: more science.

3D Systems

Anderson said that she is hoping that this technology opens the door to helping other dogs who have either had accidents or were born with deformities, like Derby, because being different shouldn't be a death sentence.

View this video on YouTube

3D Systems

Keep up to date with Derby through his Facebook page.

3D Systems / Via

Run, Derby, run!