Additive Manufacturing Strategies

After a Pig Attack, A Lucky Duck is Back to Normal with a 3D Printed Bill

ST Medical Devices

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Blu with his new 3D printed bill. [Image courtesy of Erica Smith]

Blu is a pretty, blue-gray duck, a Swedish Blue mixed breed, living on a farm in Michigan. Mostly, he lives a peaceful life, but in January he became the unfortunate victim of an attack by a pig. The encounter left him with an injured tongue and part of his bill missing, but several months later, Blu is finally starting to look and feel like he did before the incident. Rose Alexander, Blu’s owner, took him to the vet after the attack, and now, thanks to a team effort, Blu has joined the ranks of several other lucky ducks that have been helped by 3D printing.

Alexander worked with Chris Williams, CEO and President of C3 3D, part of C3 UP, to plan the reconstruction of Blu’s bill. According to Williams, a member of the C3 team is an animal lover who heard about Blu’s situation and wanted to help, so the company offered its 3D design and 3D printing services to the cause. To design a prosthetic, the team 3D scanned the remaining portion of Blu’s bill and 3D printed several prototypes before deciding on one that fit him the best.

The final bill was 3D printed from Kevlar and nylon, and took about 12 hours to print. After two hours of surgery, Blu’s new bill was attached. It took some getting used to; he wasn’t a big fan of the prosthetic at first but is adjusting and feeling better, according to Alexander.

Blu before receiving his new bill. [Image courtesy of Erica Smith]

To come up with the final Kevlar and nylon version of the bill, the C3 team consulted with Kimberlee Buck, a veterinarian with the Frankenmuth-Birch Run Veterinary Hospital. The team at the hospital had done similar projects before, creating prosthetic bills out of acrylic, but they don’t always stay attached, said Buck, depending on how the birds react to them. With the combination of materials used for Blu’s bill, the prosthetic is both lightweight and strong, and hopefully it will stay in place just like a natural bill, especially once he adjusts further.

“The team here at C3 3D with Rose’s involvement — the veterinary clinic up in Birch Run was obviously a key factor. It was truly a team effort and it’s just great seeing the results be so positive,” said Williams. “We’re very proud and honored to be a part of the project.”

Blu won’t be the last animal to benefit from C3 3D’s technology, either. Williams and his team are already working on some other projects that will use 3D printing to help animals in need.

“We’re fully engaged in using our technologies to help support efforts like this,” Williams said.

[Image: C3 UP via Facebook]

Blu is only one of many ducks that have been helped by 3D printing. Other ducks have become the recipients of 3D printed feet or legs, and numerous other animals are thriving with 3D printed prosthetics when, without them, they likely would have led difficult or shortened lives. Blu should be able to go on to live a normal, happy duck life on his home farm now – as long as he stays away from pigs.

Discuss in the 3D Printed Duck Bill forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: MLive]

 

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