Exploring the Unknown: YSU Students Create 3D Printed Dog Brace

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There’s a new face in the STEM College, brought here through an exciting new research project which could have far-reaching impact on current and future directions for YSU.

A team of six mechanical engineering students is taking advantage of advanced digital manufacturing technologies to develop a reverse-engineered 3D model and to custom fabricate prosthetics for mobility assistance and improved quality of life for Shelby, a 12-year-old small border collie.

Although Shelby became crippled when she was 6-years-old due to dehydrated spinal discs, compressed nerves, and progressive rheumatoid arthritis, she has been a trooper!

The ultimate goal of this project is to custom 3D print a brace of suitable material to offer support and increased mobility of her most deformed leg.

YSU’s mechanical engineering undergraduates Abdullah Alsairafi, Jared Clark, Jason Doll, Craig Householder, Jennifer McAnallen and Karen Schilling are working under the guidance of Guha Manogharan and in consultation with Luke Lukasko, DVM, and Shelby’s owner Laurie Wittkugle throughout this project.

“We began with getting a form fit of Shelby’s leg through a non-exothermal casting process, which we used to get a digital model through scanning methods. This enabled our students to work with computational modeling tools to design and develop a custom-fit brace specifically designed for Shelby,” Guha said.

The team is currently evaluating different combinations of both materials and 3D printing methods to develop a brace that is both soft and flexible on the inside, like memory-foam, and hard-texture to give Shelby traction in the Ohio winter.

This project is a perfect example of YSU’s College of STEM students collaborating and employing all they have learned prior to Senior Design to take on a challenge that would solve a real problem.

The talent and passion of this team may only be surpassed by their dedication and concern for Shelby, who is taking all the fuss in stride.

Interim Dean Gregg Sturrus anticipates many new opportunities for YSU STEM students as these fields of research expand.