Breaking the Mold: Meet 3DPets

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Adam Hecht and Alex Tholl founded 3DPets to merge their passion for helping animals and solving complex problems through design. As industrial engineers, they saw a problem within the pet mobility landscape.

Adam Hecht and Alex Tholl founded 3DPets to merge their passion for helping animals and solving complex problems through design. As industrial engineers, they saw a problem within the pet mobility landscape. Pet mobility devices—wheelchairs, prosthetics, and limb support braces—were typically clunky, heavy, and limited in customization options, and some methods of manufacturing created an enormous amount of waste. As animal lovers, they knew there was a better and more sustainable way to build these devices and reach more animals in need.

Putting in the Work

Jumping into the intimate world of pet mobility devices wasn’t easy. Many of the companies they approached and pitched their ideas to thought they were simply unrealistic. At the time, there was a certain mindset around how the pet mobility industry worked, specifically in building devices. Alex and Adam realized that convincing people to embrace innovation in the field would require them to produce a protype first and explain later. So, with about $200 and a low-range 3D printer, they began their parent company DiveDesign, and ultimately turned a possibility into a reality.

By developing custom software and seeking out materials to support their design process, they removed common manufacturing barriers like mass-produced parts and size and weight limitations. For example, wheelchairs made out of metal or even durable plastic parts can be too heavy for smaller or weaker animals, but with 3D printing, each part can be custom made with these factors in mind. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so we intend to continually work with innovation in mind and always aim to improve our process and products,” Alex Tholl reports. “Allowing that mindset to guide us will only ensure that we can continue helping pets in a meaningful way.” Not only that, DiveDesign produces almost no waste, and the devices can be recycled when needed.

Today, 3DPets develops lightweight, ergonomic, and truly customized mobility carts and prosthetics for all species of animals. They’re breaking the mold of traditional product development to bring the freedom of mobility to animals in need by creating a device specifically built around that pet’s disability and lifestyle.

A Few Notable Clients

Waddles, a duck featured on the Wizard of Paws show on the National Geographic (Nat Geo) Wild channel, needed a prosthetic leg. When traditional methods couldn’t meet the size, weight, and functionality requirements, 3DPets stepped in to get Waddles moving again.

Little Boogie Shoes, weighing a mere 2 pounds, tried several wheelchairs. Despite being customized, they were all too heavy for him to move and put him at greater risk for injury. 3DPets was able to manufacture every part (even the screws to hold it together), and Boogie is now mobile in a cart that weighs just one pound.

Bo the Goat, who lives with a neurological issue at Goats of Anarchy Sanctuary in New Jersey, needed a helmet to protect his head during his daily activities.

How It Works

The 3DPets team can work with clients nationwide or locally in their New Jersey office, if you don’t mind traveling.

The first step involves taking a mold of your pet, which you can do at home with their guidance. Next, you simply ship the cast back to them, where your pet’s cast is scanned into their computers and the design and build process begins. Once completed, they ship your device to you for a fitting and functionality check.

Hecht and Tholl are committed to a high standard of customer service and pride themselves on being available and transparent with their clients throughout the process, from start to finish.

The two agree that the best part of their job is watching a pet try out their device for the first time. “Whether they immediately take to it and start walking or running, or if they are going to need a little time to warm up to it, seeing them upright and ready to move is a mix of instant gratification and heartfelt gratitude. To watch a pet gain freedom of mobility, and to see the pet parent realize that life will be better for their pet because of it is just really, really heartwarming.”

More success stories and clients are spotlighted on their Instagram page, @3d.pets. Their page is a great resource for pet parents. You can also view their work on their parent company Instagram @divedesignco.

Alicia Bailey
Alicia Bailey is a writer specializing in animal welfare topics and issues. Prior to writing full time she spent 13+ years working in rescue and animal sheltering, holding leadership roles in both. She has worked with numerous local and national non-profit organizations including Best Friends Animal Society, NKLA, The Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Coachella Valley Animal Campus, and many others. Alicia is mom to 3 uniquely abled dogs, including @LittleBoogieShoes & @Bust.A.Moves.

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