The finished titanium horse shoes were printed in less than a day and cost $600. / CSIRO/

Scientists in Australia have outfitted a horse named Titanium Prints with custom-fitted shoes lighter than the traditional titanium

Although commercial 3D printing has only just begun to step away from the hype that heralded its arrival and find useful applications, it still has the capacity to surprise us in the walks of life it offers to improve.

One of the more unusual developments comes from Australia, where a metal 3D printer has been used to produce custom titanium horse shoes for one horse dubbed Titanium Prints.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and one horse trainer (John Moloney) used 3D scanners to create a model of the creature’s hooves, and then printed perfect-fitting, lightweight horse shoes.

Moloney believes the shoes will lead to faster track times for Titanium Prints.

“Any extra weight in the horseshoe will slow the horse down,” Moloney told “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.”

The horse’s hooves took just minutes to scan, with the printing completed in less than 24 hours and costing $600 for the set. This is more than the price of a traditional aluminium shoes, but those involved believe that “the weight reduction would be worth the added cost.”

CSIRO’s titanium expert John Barnes said that the research demonstrates the astounding range of uses which 3D printers can be put to.

“We wanted to highlight an area of 3D printing that we feel isn't getting enough attention," he said.