The horse had its hooves scanned with a handheld 3D scanner, and using 3D modelling software the scan was used to design four perfect fitting, lightweight racing shoes within only a few hours.

Traditionally made from aluminium, a horseshoe can weigh up to one kilogram; but the horse’s trainer, John Moloney, says that the ultimate race shoe should be as lightweight as possible.

“Any extra weight in the horseshoe will slow the horse down,” he explained. “These titanium shoes could take up to half of the weight off a traditional aluminium shoe, which means a horse could travel at new speeds. Naturally, we’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance from these shoes.”

CSIRO’s titanium expert, John Barnes, said that 3D printing a race horseshoe from titanium is a first for scientists and demonstrates the range of applications for which the technology can be used.

“There are so many ways we can use 3D titanium printing," Barnes said. "At CSIRO we are helping companies create new applications, such as biomedical implants and even things like automotive and aerospace parts. The possibilities really are endless with this technology."

The precision scanning process takes just a few minutes; for a horse, shoes can be made to measure each hoof and printed the same day.