Ditching traditional aluminum horseshoes for lighter, 3D-printed replacements could lead to improved race day performance. That's according to scientists (and one horse trainer) in Australia, who recently scanned the hooves of one local race horse, and then used 3D-modeling software to create a perfectly sized shoe. From there, it took less than 24 hours to have four titanium shoes printed and ready for the horse.
And while the process is far more costly than sticking with tried-and-true aluminum shoes (the four titanium prints costed approximately $600), experts say the reduced weight could bring enormous benefits. "Any extra weight in the horseshoe will slow the horse down," says trainer John Moloney. "These titanium shoes could take up to half of the weight off a traditional aluminum shoe, which means a horse could travel at new speeds." Aluminum shoes typically weigh up to 2.2 pounds. Halving that could of course shave precious seconds of a horse's time when it matters most. "We believe the weight reduction would be worth the added cost," says Moloney. If nothing else, it's another example of a novel (and unexpected) area where 3D printing could make a notable impact.