Titanium shoes have been made for an Australian racehorse using 3D printing technology after the animal had its hooves scanned.
The researchers say it is the first time that three-dimensional printing technology had been used to create titanium shoes.
The horse, dubbed Titanium Prints by researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), had its hooves scanned with a handheld 3D scanner this week.
The scientists then used 3D modelling software and, from the scans, designed a set of perfect-fitting, lightweight racing shoes.
The four customised shoes were printed within only a few hours. It is understood they cost about $A600 to print.
Traditionally made from aluminium, a horseshoe can weigh up to one kilogram, but the horse’s trainer, John Moloney, says that the ultimate race shoe should be as lightweight as possible.
“Any extra weight in the horseshoe will slow the horse down.
“These titanium shoes could take up to half of the weight off a traditional aluminium shoe, which means a horse could travel at new speeds.
“Naturally, we’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance from these shoes.”
CSIRO’s titanium expert, John Barnes, said that 3D printing a racehorse shoe from titanium was a first for scientists and demonstrated the range of applications available for the technology.
“There are so many ways we can use 3D titanium printing. At CSIRO we are helping companies create new applications, like biomedical implants and even things like automotive and aerospace parts.
“The possibilities really are endless with this technology,” he said.
The precision scanning process takes just a few minutes and, for a horse, shoes can be made to measure for each hoof and printed the same day.