You may not have previously considered 3DPrint.com as your go-to to get all the latest celebrity gossip, but you might change your mind after reading this juicy tidbit that we’ve got covered here: Debbie Harry lost her feet to frostbite and a 3D printed pair are helping her get around these days. Let that sink in. I bet you didn’t know.

To be clear: Debbie Harry is a chicken living on an urban farm owned by Rachel Diepstra and located in the greater Grand Rapids area, MI. My sources tell me that the Blondie singer, who most likely is not named after the chicken, has her original feet exactly where they’ve always been.

The foot loss of Chicken Debbie Harry resulted after the hen, who is sometimes bullied by the other chickens, also all named after famous musicians, chose to leave her heated chicken coop and hunker down in the family’s garage for the night. When she was discovered in the morning, the family wasn’t hopeful for her chances of survival. They wrapped her in a towel and put her on the warming vent and to their surprise, she pulled through. Debbie soon learned to navigate the world on her stumps, but Diepstra knew that she would have a better quality of life if they could offer her some prosthetics.

Without a chicken help hotline at her disposal, Diepstra turned to social media in the hopes that the collective mind would be able to offer some suggestions. In no time at all, she had a response. The husband of a high school friend happened to be an engineering and robotics teacher at West Michigan Aviation Academy and Andrew Abissi saw the opportunity to give his students some real world, hands-on experience, all while helping a good cause, as he discussed:

“I proposed the problem to my students and students from other classes – bioengineering and CAD – and asked them to look for as many possible solutions as we can to solve it.”

The students worked on the project as an extracurricular activity, but soon there were more than 30 different proposals from three persistent students, James Brouckman, Peyton Ward, and Ben McCallum, for addressing Debbie’s lost scratchers. Initially, many were tempted to create prosthetics that were designed to look like chicken feet, but it was difficult to create such items and give the bird any degree of stability. The solutions were easier to identify once they had discarded the idea that the chicken might be interested in aesthetically replacing her feet.

3D printing is gaining quite a reputation for the advantages it provides to those designing and producing prosthetics, both because of the reduction in costs for production and also because of the ability it creates for the iterative process of designing. Abissi says that the project helped his students develop empathy and perseverance in addition to giving them further experience using additive manufacturing technology. The availability of 3D printing has changed the way projects such as this can be approached, and placed doing something such as creating prosthetics for a chicken within a reasonable budget, as Abissi explained:

“It’s made prototyping incredibly easy. The fact that we could keep making new products, you couldn’t do that with injection molding. We have 15 printers so each student can keep working. It takes 30 minutes to print one. It makes the first steps a lot easier in the manufacturing process.”

So now, Debbie Harry can get back to strutting her stuff.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Source: GR Mag / Images: Rachel Diepstra via GR Mag]

 

 

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