3D Printing For Your Animal Hospital




Better Medicine With 3D Printing
After many years of applying my Aerospace Engineering education to the design, development, and production of motorcycles, I found myself running my wife’s animal hospital. The deal was she handled the medicine and I was responsible for everything else. My design and manufacturing experience has not gone unused. Our inventory is completely paperless, not a clipboard on the premises. Weekly purchase orders are generated and emailed in under 10 minutes. We have paperless records, documented processes, large flat screen monitors and computers everywhere.
With my background, I had focused on non-medicine related areas and functions of the hospital. Resistance was indeed futile. Between flu outbreaks and military spouse employee turnover I found myself enduring two weeks of requests like ‘hold this patient’, ‘put a warming blanket on that patient’, ‘put the Doppler on this patient’. I started identifying the need for products that in many cases just did not exist. With the explosion of affordable 3D printers on the market, Willow Creek Animal Hospital purchased one.
My experiences as a substitute ‘tech’ are as follows. Day one (and day two), as I heard the doctor say ‘get the cuff syringe, now, I need it now’ the idea for the Cuff Syringe Holder formed (pic 1 syr with tape). Day three, the Cuff Syringe Holder was designed, printed, and in place atop the anesthesia machine (pic 2 finished product). I even added space for two syringes just in case the first one didn’t get back when the endotracheal tube was placed.
Day four I assembled the cage pass through device for the patient warmer. Baggy of fasteners (one missing), worn looking gasket, and two fittings went onto the cage as I wondered what I was thinking when this purchase was made. Then, we needed that cage for a healthy patient. Off came the fasteners, gasket, and fittings. That night I was back at the computer designing what is now the Heater Holder (pic). Day five, with my new single piece Heater Holder I impressed the nursing staff by hooking up the blanket in under 30 seconds!
The next week I witnessed the Dentalaire machine caught, then forcibly drug over the delicate air lines (pic 1). This was something I had heard discussed at staff meetings more than once. With a couple of measurements, I printed the Hose Holder that night (pic 2). Fit the first time and works great.
Next I was helping setup the surgery suite and asked if we had something to hold the warming hose on the table. “I’m not paying $90 for a piece of wire, use a leash or tape it to the table” was my doctor’s response. This time I added spots to hold the sensor wires from the monitoring equipment. It’s a little OCD but I’m sleeping better now. Some other items soon to be on the list are custom fit spoon splints and stiffer, longer tongue depressors for bandaging.
Our 3D printer has quickly become a necessary piece of equipment. The ability to model your ideas in 3D using software is a design skill set I brought with me. This may be a big hurdle to overcome at your hospital. As printers become even more attainable, simpler less expensive software apps will soon follow. Keep watch because at the current pace of technology, this may be only a few years away.

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