When Erica Charbonneau's friend's French Bulldog needed a wheelchair both for a cheap price and quickly, she rose to the occasion and developed a 3D printed design which she has now iterated so other dog owners can create their own. Her design is called FiGO.
If you’re someone who watches countless hours of animal videos on the internet, this is a story which will warm your heart.
Erica Charbonneau is a creative technologist and inclusive developer with a Master of Design, Inclusive Design from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. So, she was the perfect person to help when her friend’s French bulldog needed a wheelchair.
Wheelchairs for pets are costly and this dog’s owners weren’t able to afford one. But, Charbonneau came up with and simple design which is easy for anyone to build. The results were fantastic and the pup loved the chair.
After the success of this project, Charbonneau went on to develop two other wheelchairs for dogs too. So, she decided to iterate her design to make it easy for pet owners to develop their own wheelchairs.
The custom canine wheelchair is called FiGO and is available on Make. It makes use of 3D printed joint pieces, acrylic or aluminum tubing, razor scooter wheels, padding and a few nuts and bolts.
The steps to create the FiGO are pretty simple and all laid out on Make. Firstly, you’ll need to measure your pet to find out what frame size they need.
Measure your pet’s width, their height and finally from chest to tail. To determine the tubing lengths that you need, a few calculations are necessary. But, Charbonneau has thought of everything and developed a Google Spreadsheet which does the math for you – just save a copy to edit the file yourself.
Next, you’ll need to 3D print the joint pieces for the frame. You can find all of these pieces on Thingiverse and further instructions for which and how many to print.
Once this step is complete, you’ll have all the parts of the FiGO in front of you and now just need to piece them all together. After every piece is in the right place (follow Charbonneau’s instructions on Make if you’re struggling), you can Guerrilla Glue everything to make it more stable.
You’ll also need to fit the wheels and the straps. Charbonneau adds that all parts can be bought from local hardware stores or Amazon. Again, visit the Make page for a full list of parts to buy.
Once your wheelchair is complete, Charbonneau offers a little advice, saying: “All dogs will take time to get used to their wheelchair… I’ve worked with three dogs so far and I’ve experienced: a very comfortable and quickly adapted dog, an anxious and moody dog, and a timid pup. I’ve learned that leaving the chair in your living space and just letting your dog approach it and sniff it helps!”
License: The text of "Create Your Own Customizable Pet Wheelchair" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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