3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) recently traveled what looks like an uncharted path in the 3D printing space. The company used its technology to produce a prosthetic beak for a wounded toucan bird in Costa Rica.
The toucan, named Grecia, had most of its upper beak mutilated in what has been described as a senseless act of cruelty against animals. Following the attack, 3D Systems Corporation said that Grecia was left unable to feed itself nor fend for itself.
After the attack, Costa Rica’s ZOOAVE Rescue Center took in Grecia. The facility is known for admitting thousands of wounded animals each year. Birds in the position of Grecia usually end up euthanized to prevent them from experiencing more pain.
However, when Grecia got to the center, it demonstrated remarkable determination to live so the staff at ZOOAVE turned to 3D Systems Corporation to create a prosthetic beak for the bird.
How partners coordinated to create the artificial beak
Following the request from ZOOAVE to create a 3D printed beak for the toucan, 3D Systems embarked on the journey of rehabilitating the bird. The company collaborated with product designers, dentists and experts in nanotechnology to create the most suitable prosthetic beak for the toucan.
The beak needed to be strong and biocompatible. The prosthetic beak also needed to have a smooth surface to ensure that it doesn’t encourage contamination or growth of bacteria that could further complicate the health of the bird.
To come up with a product that meets all those specifications, 3D Systems Corporation’s partnered with Grupo SG and took scans of Grecia’s mutilated beak. Grupo also took 3D scans of the beak of an unharmed toucan to provide reference. Those scans were forwarded to 3D Systems that in turn reverse-engineered the design to come up with a custom prosthetic beak for the wounded toucan.
The 3D printed prosthetic beak has restored hope to Grecia as the bird can now feed and even preen. Grecia is featured in a documentary called TOUCAN NATION that will premiere on August 24 on Animal Planet.