The popularity of 3D printing has exploded within the past couple of years, and one of the most revolutionary uses for it has been that of prosthetics. But humans aren’t the only ones benefitting from it: 3D printing has been a game changer for animals too. Those who have lost limbs due to an accident, a congenital disorder, or an act of cruelty are now experiencing happiness and mobility thanks to some clever design work. Click through the images to meet Buttercup, the duck who got a new prosthetic foot; TurboRoo, the cute chihuahua who walks everywhere with a special wheel cart; and Beauty, the bald eagle who enjoys a 3D-printed beak after being shot in the face by a poacher.
Dr. Shannon McGee joined forces with caretaker Mike Garey and Novacopy to make an accurate 3D printed new foot for Buttercup. The duck, who was born with a backwards foot, is now able to walk around like any other duck thanks to its prosthetic rubber foot.
A team of 3D engineers and veterinarians created a pair of 3D-printed legs, which allowed Derby the dog to run for the very first time in his life. Born with disfigured front legs, the lucky boy could finally ditch his old cart thanks to two custom-made foreleg prostheses.
Mark Deadrick of 3dyn saw little Roo online and decided to use his 3D design skills to give the pup a second chance at mobility. The tiny dog was born without front legs, but thanks to the incredible wheeled cart, which was printed on a Makerbot 3D printer, he can move around just like any of his dog-friends at the park.
Japanese Artist Aki Inomata mixes her love for architecture with 3D printing to create stunning shelters for hermit crabs. The nomadic creatures often switch shells, so she designed a whole set of crystalline homes modeled after New York City, Paris, and Tokyo.
Jane Fink Cantwell of Birds of Prey Northwest rescued Beauty the Bald Eagle after a poacher shot the bird in the face and broke her beak. Thanks to Nate Calvin of Kinetic Engineering Group, Beauty now sports a new 3D-printed polymer prosthetic beak which allows her to feed herself, preen, and drink again.
Our last 3D printing story isn’t about prosthetics, but is big news that will save the lives of millions of animals. Bioengineering expert Alan Faulkner-Jones from Heriot Watt University is working on a project where human stem cells will be 3D-printed into micro-tissues, thus eliminating cruel and often inaccurate animal testing by 2018.