The world of 3-D printing has a new, adorable face as a symbol of its myriad applications in innovation, and, well, just helping someone special get around with a tiny wheelchair.
That face belongs to Sir Joey, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, who was born with deformities to his front legs that made it impossible for him to walk properly.
Joey’s tale is one of a struggle for survival, impending doom, and finally a new lease on life that led him to Dialexa’s Ken Hanson, and the assistance of a high-tech team of Dallas innovators that has changed Joey’s life.
“Seeing Joey for the first time, hopping around and balancing the best he could while he played really showcased the incredible spirit he had,” Hanson said. “That spirit won me over, but I couldn’t feel sad, and immediately pictured a day where he could zoom around a park like any other dog, having just as much fun as they do without any of the struggles.”
“Seeing Joey for the first time, hopping around and balancing the best he could while he played really showcased the incredible spirit he had,” Ken Hanson said.
Hanson went on: “I adopted him with this picture in mind, knowing that I would do whatever I could to reward such an amazing dog with full mobility.”
Joey’s life could have had an unhappy outcome without the intervention of good-hearted humans and a new tech-savvy partner.
The tiny dog was dropped off at a so-called high kill shelter and then rescued by the Dallas rescue operation Chance’s Haven, which contacted Marina Tarshevska’s rescue Dallas Dog Rescue Rehab and Reform.
That rescue group took Joey in, and worked with New York Second Chance rescue which was going to assist with the medical implications of Joey’s condition. Joey was awaiting transportation to New York when Samer Fallouh, vice president of engineering at Dialexa, posted a video of Joey.
And, that’s when Hanson, Dialexa Growth Hacker and front-end engineer, met Joey and immediately fell in love with him.
Hanson couldn’t help but adopt him, and enlisted the assistance of his work friends to help his new canine buddy.
Volunteers built several wheelchairs for Joey, but it became apparent that something custom-fitted was needed.
Dialexa’s team of engineers stepped up, and hardware engineer Romeo España started prototyping a custom wheelchair using Dialexa’s 3-D printer.
España took Joey’s measurements and collected 3-D files from other dogs with similar conditions before creating a series of 3-D prototypes. He sometimes used LEGO blocks and wheels to ensure a proper fit.
That took several tries and alterations because of Joey’s legs, and because Joey’s rib cage isn’t uniform. That meant the lightweight harness and chest plates had to be custom fitted to his unique shape.
“These wheels will truly change both our lives, not the least of which will be Joey’s.”
Hanson said the tiny wheelchair is a strong link between him and Joey.
“Getting to actually help work on and engineer a solution for Joey’s struggles makes me so happy,” Hanson said. “These wheels will truly change both our lives, not the least of which will be Joey’s.”
It’s an example of how innovation can make things better.
“Eating, drinking, playing, even just getting across the room is so incredibly difficult for him,” Hanson said. “You’d never see him upset about any of it though, and a spirit like that deserves the best innovation we can give him.”
For a daily dose of what’s new, now, and next in Dallas-Fort Worth innovation, subscribe to our Dallas Innovates e-newsletter.