Aug. 13, 2014

Quack-Quack is a duck attacked by dogs on campus at NTU, Taiwan. It went through surgery at the National Taiwan University Veterinary Hospital (NTUVH) and the vets have fixed his broken top front part of its left foot. But in its healing process, it is found that its left foot can not fully stretch out and it has some degree of varus. Quack-Quack can not walk well anymore, and he used only the right leg to bear almost all his weight.

The vets have tried several ways to help Quack-Quack. They made a temporary soft cushioned shoe for him but because it didn't fit perfectly, Quack-Quack's foot got slight purulent symptoms from repeatedly grinding. NTUVH then posted a message on a local Taipei Hackerspace site asking for help.

That's where a company called Lung X Lung Design came in. They decided to develop a brace that helps to restore Quack-Quack's ability to walk. The team first used 3D Systems' Sense 3D scanner to capture 3D model of Quack-Quack's left foot, but failed. 3D scanner has a certain requirement to light: if the surface material is too light or too shiny, it reflects the light and scatters the light from the scanner and creates poor quality data. Then they decided to use traditional method to create a mold of the duck's foot and then built a 3D model using Rhinoceros 5.

After many fixing and testing processes they finally got a satisfactory 3D model of Quack-Quack's left foot. The next step was to print out a 'shoe' that can be covered to Quack-Quack's left foot and a brace that can be added to his leg. The team ordered NinjaFlex flexible filament to make it more comfortable for Quack-Quack.

The first two versions were not fitting perfectly. The design was too big, and didn't take into consideration that a bird's feet have the ability of grasping things. After a few trials, they came up with a lightweight design with walker brace and hinge joint, which is very easy to take on and off, and allows the duck to walk more comfortable.

The customized 3D printed walking brace allows Quack-Quack to walk more normally and helps him keeping his body in balance. Quack-Quack is now fully recovered and went back to the Niaolai mountain area in Taipei.

This is not the first health-related 3D printing experiment. Last year, Buttercup the duck got his 3D printed foot and the chance to walk and swim again. Earlier we also reported that 'TurboRoo' Chihuahua was able to walk thanks to a 3D printed wheelchair. Advances in the development of 3D printers have been revolutionizing the way objects can be created.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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