Most of us have seen the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) which shows abandoned animals missing limbs while Sarah McLachlan sings in the background. Vincent the cat was born without back legs but thanks to Dr. Bergh at Iowa State University he has now been given a pair of titanium-alloy legs and a new chance at life.
Over the past few years there has been incredibly leaps and bounds made in the field of 3D printing and Vincent is not the only animal to be given prosthetic limbs thanks to 3D printing. In addition to Vincent there has been Beauty the Bald Eagle who had her upper beak replaced by 3D printed pieces after it was shot by poachers or Buttercup the Duck who was given a silicone foot. Without the aid of these prosthetics created by 3D printing these animals would not have been able to fend for themselves and would likely have died. This is especially true of those animals injured by poachers and those who hunt for fun.
I see a huge opportunity to give not only wild and domesticated animals a new lease on life but to also help former factory farm animals. One of the biggest issues within the factory farming industry, other than its existence, is how many animals are maimed and injured due to the close quarters they are kept in. More often than not they are left for dead by the farm owners who cannot use them in their product. If these animals are lucky enough to be saved from such a terrible fate the ability to give them prosthetic legs would allow a greater chance for them to recover and go to loving homes so there could be more space at animal sanctuaries to save even more animals from such a terrible fate.
While this is great news for animal lovers it also signifies a much larger implication for the medical field as it could revolutionize the field of prosthetics. The ability to use 3D printers to create prosthetics would allow for greater access around the world as well as making them cheaper. This would be especially helpful in third world countries where access to such technology is not as prevalent. I feel this technology would be especially helpful for those who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders to help those in countries without the resources to afford such technology. It would also create opportunities for military doctors to help wounded soldiers be given the opportunity to more quickly recover and get back to their lives.
3D printing has the opportunity to completely revolutionize the medical field and make it far more affordable for patients whether it be through prosthetic limbs or internal organs.