At 3DShoes.com, we’ve had a lot of talk about 3D printed footwear. Today I wanted to mention a new kind of 3D printed shoes; horseshoes. Dutch scientists are creating custom therapeutic shoes through 3D printing. Modeling after personalized foot care in human medicine, Harold Brommer and his associates have carried out pilot testing on two horses for two consecutive shoeing cycles. Because they are such a close-fitting, they only require a minimal amount of glue. The close-fitting of the 3D printed design generates a more sustainable connection between hoof and shoe. After about 90 seconds of scanning photography per foot, each shoe takes about six to eight hours to print. Unlike standard shoes, 3D printed shoes allow for a perfectly custom fit while permitting farriers and veterinarians to address specific pathological issues with fine-tuning.
The lightweight synthetic material used for the shoe makes a significant difference in the weight horses carry at the end of their limbs. They are also a lot less slippery on roads and other hard surfaces. Although still in its early stages, the 3D printed horseshoe project will soon focus on evaluating the shoes’ effects on horses’ gaits. The general public won’t be able to acquire them in the short term, but they could provide practical solutions in equine clinics in the future. The gradual change helps with more comfortable healing while encouraging better welfare for the horse by letting it experience less pain. Brommer states they are following through as a nonprofit, combining talents of various departments to develop a solution to better health and welfare for horses.