So far, from what I’ve seen, the greatest purpose of 3D printing is making spare parts for birds. First there was the injured bald eagle with the 3D-printed beak, and now a duck named Buttercup, born with a twisted foot, is getting a brand new one thanks to the same technology.
Mike Garey, owner of the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., has been working on a prosthetic foot prototype for Buttercup, who was born with his left foot turned backwards and, after a prophylactic amputation, has only a stump remaining. Garey modeled the new foot using 3D software, then sent the design to a printing company.
The usual hard plastic used in 3D printing isn’t appropriate for a duck foot, which has to be flexible enough for walking and swimming, so the company, NovaCopy, instead printed a mold that can be used to cast a silicone foot. They’ve been testing various designs for Buttercup, who will get his final foot within a few weeks.
And now, for no particular reason, here is a photo from Buttercup’s Facebook page where he’s snuggling a teddy bear.
Man, thank goodness for finally having a technology that allows us to easily enhance birds. What should we print next? A saddle for an ostrich? A grasping claw for a seagull? An exoskeleton to allow a budgie to relive its dinosaur heritage?