SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Meet Hobbes.
A couple of years ago, a poorly-healed broken leg left this canine fellow an amputee. Despite having only 3 legs, this terrier mix is as rough and tumble as the next guy.
If a group of brilliant scholars/scientists at UC Davis has their way, Hobbes’ 3-legged exploits will soon be a thing of the past. Instead, he’ll be running about on 3 legs and a brand new 3-D prosthetic limb, all thanks to his owner, a team at UC Davis, and some amazing technology at a Sacramento library.
For owner Andrea Bledsoe, a veterinary student at UC Davis, the idea for Hobbes 3-D prosthetic began as an extracurricular project. Ph.D fellows Randy Carney and Holly Abney brought their expertise in animal anatomy and material science.
“We are in the process of iterative design,” said Carney. “Hobbes is loving all the attention from friends and family.”
Carney and the team can print the 3-D design free of charge thanks to Sacramento’s Arcade Public Library’s “Design Spot.” A federal grant made it possible for the library to create this high-tech printing lab. They bought several 3-D printers and are about to install even more. For two years now, hundreds of armchair inventors of all ages have been able to come here to discover and explore 3-D technology for the simple price of a library card. Design Spot even offers free classes twice a month.
“We have all kinds of interesting projects,” said Design Spot volunteer Tom Sanderson. He’s the the library’s definite ‘go to’ guy for all things 3-D. “One guy is currently printing out the parts to create a 3-D printer! This is he first project we’ve done for a living being, though.”
Sanderson said in order to achieve Hobbes’ prosthetic, they’ll fire up three of their ‘Makerbot Replicator 2’ printers all at once. The machines will put down layer after layer of melted material based on a computer-generated design. “We can do it in a single day. We are all betting the dog will appreciate it. I’d be happy either way.”
No doubt, the success of Hobbe’s prosthetic will have far-reaching benefits for animals and human’s alike. “We see the potential for a lot of good,” said Sanderson.
After what Sanderson referred to as the “print and test period,” he plans to invite the now famous Hobbes to the library for photo ops, treats, and no doubt, a good deal of running around. Everyone involved agrees, all the media attention has made him into something of a local celebrity.