The future is here. Frankly, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. As any dutiful Back to the Future 2 disciple will tell you, most of the things that we were told would be invented by now haven’t been invented. (Although you can spend literally thousands of dollars on some limited edition sneakers meant to resemble the ones Marty McFly zips around in during the flick.)
Cats, of course, have remained largely the same as they did back in the olden days — although one bright spark has managed to use modern 3D printing technology to save a kitty. There might be hope for us all yet.
Sprocket is the name of this trailblazing test cat. He’s a tuxedo chap who lives in Scotland. Earlier this year, he had the misfortune to be hit by a car and suffered damage to his front left leg. The 10-month-old kitty then disappeared for a day into some nearby woods only to eventually return home with an additional broken jaw and some missing teeth.
A visit to the vets saw Sprocket’s leg wired back, but then his recovery went awry. As the Telegraph in England puts it, he was “mauled by a dog six weeks later” and subsequently developed serious nerve damage and puncture wounds. At this point, Sprocket’s movement was hindered to the point where the idea of a leg amputation was mooted.
Thankfully, Sprocket had shown the good sense and foresight to live with a design researcher at the Glasgow School of Art. His name is Fergus Fullarton Pegg, and he set about tinkering around with a 3D printer in an effort to restore his cat to full walking condition.
After consulting with a vet, Fergus came up with the idea to create a leg brace with Formlabs’ Form 1+ SLA 3D printer. The company’s website explains the process:
“The support’s design had to help Sprocket put weight on the limb, to avoid atrophy and keep the blood flow strong. Fergus took a cast from the vet and designed an orthosis that would allow movement in the joint and release the front paw naturally, so Sprocket would be encourage to walk normally.”
After creating a prototype out of grey resin, Fergus honed the design of the orthosis until he came up with a winning fit.
Sprocket’s recovery schedule now involves waking up, possibly yawning and stretching, and then strapping on his orthosis for a play session. This is designed to encourage him to move his limb while also offering up protection.
Sprocket is trying out his bespoke orthosis for a few weeks before the vet makes a decision on how his recovery should proceed. Hey, if the 3D printed orthosis doesn’t work out, there’s always those futuristic sneakers, right?
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