Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary

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.

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And now, for no particular reason, here is a photo from Buttercup’s Facebook page where he’s snuggling a teddy bear.


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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?