Additive Manufacturing Strategies

If Only: Even 3D Printing Can’t Replace Endangered Animals


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IFAW rev2 Logo_Horiz_Color_Spelled-01Most of us know that guilt-ridden feeling of forgetting the plight of endangered animals, many preyed on by humans due to greed, as we go about enjoying our homes, families, and a long list of comforts—all that often allow us to remain in the illusion of our safe and happy bubbles. It’s all too easy to watch a sad documentary or movie and become consumed with sadness over what’s happening to wildlife. We are touched, sporadically, in understanding the ongoing plight of these incredibly beautiful, intelligent, and sensitive endangered animals—some nearly gone forever—but then in feeling frightened as well as rather helpless to stop the ongoing tragedy, we all too quickly go back to our insulated lives and look the other way. And we conveniently forget.

The killing continues though, while we work, eat, sleep. Numerous species are targeted for poaching and hunting, and countless others die because of pollution and environmental issues, whether by sea or land. The International Fund for Animal Welfare doesn’t want you to tuck these global concerns regarding animals back into your pocket again though. They want you also to keep a vigilant focus on what’s happening and help however you can—and in teaming up with Young & Rubicam Paris they’ve launched a campaign using some powerful—and hopefully unforgettable—imagery to make themselves even more clear. While the visuals should make quite an impact, two words should stick with you as well: irreplaceable, irreversible.

Juxtaposed with 3D printing technology, the message is instantly conveyed in that we can’t just make more animals ourselves, omnipotent as we may see ourselves overall.  We can’t just fire up a machine, clap our hands, and magically restore the wrongs that have been perpetrated for so long, resulting in the absence of countless and once dignified, magnificent creatures. The IFAW ad campaign is striking, reminding us that even with all the magic of new technology, with the thousands of innovations being presented around the globe, there are still much deeper concerns and consequences that we need to address.

1-48 (1)The ad campaign is stark and provocative, with simple text stating ‘If only they were this easy to reproduce.’ We see an elephant, a whale, and an orangutan with bodies half-finished within the 3D printer, innards exposed. Displaying the ridiculous futility of the exercise causes us to ponder things on several different levels here, but the bottom line is that we can’t just walk away and forget today, or again tomorrow.

IFAW, headquartered in Yarmouth Port, MA, is dedicated to the well-being of all animals, whether it is rescuing a cat or dog, saving seals or protecting whales—and their work depends on donations. Currently, IFAW has projects ongoing in over 40 countries, involving rescues, campaigns to prevent animal cruelty, and advocating to protect wildlife and their habitats. Founded in 1969, they work with communities around the world, with the broad vision of a world where all animals are both respected and protected.

While 3D printing surely can’t bring back lost wildlife or recreate more, the technology has been used by caring humans on numerous, very inspirational, occasions, even with examples like 3D printed drones to watch over land that is commonly trespassed on by poachers. New and promising concepts have risen to the forefront as well, such as the bioprinting of rhino horns, offering up a safe and not completely artificial version that it seems many would accept in lieu of the real thing.

5-33Most are familiar by now with the work being done around the world, with much of it concentrated in the US, by individuals and veterinarians, working together with 3D printing to help a variety of animals in need of prosthetics after losing limbs in a variety of accidents. Recently, we reported on Phillip the duck, who received two new 3D printed webbed feet. There are actually a lot of duck success stories out there related to prostheses, but many other animals have benefited too and either have a better quality of life now, or their lives were saved altogether, from Huizai the cockatoo with a new beak to the famed Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, FL, with her 3D printed prosthetic tail (a personal favorite in our home, and we watch her webcam on a daily basis).

While all of these stories are amazing and certainly tug at the heartstrings, as the IFAW is striving to show with their latest ad campaign, 3D printing and other technologies cannot tackle the bigger issue—only humans coming together and fighting to stop numerous wrongs being heaped on animals can reverse trends that have been going on for generations. That we are able to offer relief and peripheral help through high-tech means is certainly a wonderful thing, but nothing can replace the human element required to come together and put an end to poaching and senseless killing and abuse. Find out more from IFAW about how you can get involved. Do you think this ad campaign will be effective for gaining more support? Discuss in the IFAW Ad Campaign with 3D Printer forum over at

[Source/Images: Beautiful Life]


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