Welcome to another Creatz3D Fun Fact Series!
The increasing accessibility of 3D Printing has revolutionized the use of prosthetics to help animals who were born without limbs or were injured.
Before 3D printing, prosthetics were both extremely costly and time-consuming to produce.
But now with 3D printing, it’s easier to design and produce custom-fitted prosthetics to give animals a new lease of life. We have some stories that will warm your heart.
#ICYMI, click here for a recap of our earlier fun facts.
JARY, THE HORNBILL CANCER WARRIOR
A 22 year old great pied hornbill that lives in Singapore’s very own Jurong Bird Park, Jary has come a long way since he was diagnosed with a 8cm-wide cancerous growth in his casque (a helmet-like structure on the beak).
After 2 months of planning by a dedicated team of veterinarians, keepers and 3D printing engineers, the cancerous part of Jary’s casque was first surgically removed. Dr. Hsu from The Animal Clinic then attached the 3D printed casque to the bird’s bill with a drill guide to cover the exposed tissue. Dental resin was then applied to the new casque to seal any gaps.
Billed as the first-ever surgery for a hornbill ever in the world, Jary was eating normally the following day after the operation and was back in action in the park soon after. A sign of growing used to his custom casque, Jary even colored his casque yellow by himself by rubbing it against his tail. Follow his 3D Printing recovery story – click here.
LOLA, A MAIMED SEA TURTLE
Lola is a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle who lost her right flipper over a decade ago after being severely entangled in some discarded fishing line. The missing flipper means Lola tends to swim in circles and had difficulty feeding, leading to a compromise of a normal life.
A group of WPI engineering students doing research for their senior capstone project came across Lola’s plight, and decided to find a solution to help the sea turtle.
The result was an unique 3D printed “hydrodynamic biomimetic” flipper that mimics how a flipper would work, and allow Lola to generate enough force to swim normally.
TUCKER, GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG WITH BIRTH DEFECTS
A 5 year old Australian shepherd dog named Tucker behaves just like any other that loves people and has bundles of energy – except that he was born with several missing bones in his back right foot.
This causes Tucker’s pain in his back and hindquarter when he moves around and is likely to cause him even more pain when he gets older. This was until his owner, Kendra Earl Warlow, chanced upon students of the Mizzou 3D Printing Club and asked if they were able to 3D print a functional paw for Tucker.
The students took on the challenge and created a 3D file from a cast that was made of Tucker’s paw. Several prototypes were then made using white plastic and metal, before they turned to PLA which was easier to work with.
After testing out the prototypes and noting Tucker was putting more weight on his right foot than he had so far, the team is getting close to producing a final prosthetic and is testing replacing the bottom with a rubber ball for better mobility.
BAGPIPES, A LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN
Bagpipes is a Little Blue Penguin that had its left leg amputated after it was caught in a fishing line, and had been hopping and wriggling his way around his adopted home at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.
For nearly 10 years of his life, Bagpipes had some support in the form of different kinds of foam beer bottle holders that were cut to size and wrapped around his stump.
But his life changed when University of Canterbury senior lecturer Don Clucas came up with a computer design, refined the model and printed a plastic prosthetic (the final fitting will include rubber material) for Bagpipes.
“When he got out of the pool he was using parts of his body that he shouldn’t, like his beak and flippers,” said penguin keeper Mal Hackett.
With his new digital foot, Bagpipes is now able to stand tall and enjoy moving around like how a penguin should with his body weight evenly distributed.
DMYKA, QUADRIPLEGIC CAT NO MORE
Dymka is a cat from Russia who was found shivering on the side of a road in Novokuznetsk, a southwestern Siberia city, and found to be suffering from a serious case of frostbite.
The cat was taken immediately to a local veterinary clinic where the damaged parts of her legs were amputated. CT scans of her limbs were taken and were used to 3D print titanium rods that was coated with calcium phosphate which would become her new legs.
Titanium is used “as biomaterial” in prosthetics because of its compatibility with living tissues, while the calcium phosphate helps the prosthetic to adhere to the bone and decreases the chance of implant rejection.
Since “having a second lease of life,” Dymka is now leading a normal life having regained the ability to walk and run just like any other cat.
The challenge of making a prosthetic to improve an animal’s quality of life can be a excellent learning experience, and is a fine example of how 3D printing can be applied.