Feb. 22, 2016 | By Kira
A team of veterinarians and 3D printing experts from the Renato Archer Technology and Information Center (CTI) in Campinas, Brazil have successfully implanted the world’s first metal 3D printed beak on a bright blue and yellow macaw. The bird, named Gigi, was rescued from captivity and found with severe deformations on her beak that prevented her from feeding herself, yet just days after the surgery, she is already well-adapted and able to eat solid foods.
This great 3D printing medical success was the result of a team effort by veterinary surgeon Roberto Fecchio, 3D designer and facial reconstruction specialist Cicero Moraes, and veterinary dentist Paul Miamoto. This self-described team of “Avengers” from the Animal Care Center in Ipiranga, Sao Paulo, has been pioneering the use of 3D printing technology to save the lives of wild animals. Previously, they 3D printed a new shell for Freddy the tortoise, as well as a beak for an injured toucan, both of which were 3D printed in PLA plastic.
For this case, however, the team decided to perform a world first: a prosthetic beak 3D printed in titanium, rather than plastic. Macaws use their beaks to break open seeds and other hard shells, meaning they must be extremely durable and strong. Along with being biocompatible, lightweight, and rust-resistant, titanium is one of the strongest metals on Earth, making it the perfect material for this job.
Miamoto began by taking a series of photographs of the bird, which Moraes then converted into a digital 3D model using a specialized Blender add-on designed by Dalai Felinto at the request of Dr. Everton da Rosa. Experts at CTI then used the 3D model to 3D print a custom-fitted titanium beak.
The surgery, which took place on Thursday, February 18 at the Animal Care center in Sao Paulo, was performed by veterinarians Roberto Fecchio, Sergio Camargo, Rodrigo Rabello and Methus Rabello. The 3D printed prosthetic was attached using bone cement and orthopaedic screws. “Just 48 hours after the surgery, Gigi is already showing great adaptation to the prosthetic!” wrote the Center for Research and Screening of Wild Animals at Unimonte University, where Gigi is recovering. “It is extremely rewarding to return the quality of life to an animal, and after seeing the before and after picture, there is a huge sense of accomplishment.”
The rescue team is also taking advantage of this 3D printing success story to bring awareness to the illegal trafficking of wild animals in Brazil. According to Fecchio, Gigi was rescued from captivity by the Municipal Police in Praia Grande (CGM/PG), and brought to Unimonte University. “Thank you for the excellent work of Dr. Roberto Fecchio and the entire staff for providing this quality of life for a beautiful animal that has suffered greatly in illegal captivity” said the university staff. “Do not encourage trafficking! It exists only if you buy.”
Even with her new beak, the veterinarians have said that Gigi would be unlikely to survive in the wild, due to having lived most of her life in captivity, however they are currently seeing if she can be adopted by a zoo.
It is becoming more and more common for dogs, cats, and other household pets to receive plastic 3D printed prosthetics or 3D printed wheelchairs, however there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and wild animals in particular often require specialized care that only experts can provide. Luckily, stories such as Gigi the parrot’s, or Grecia the toucan’s, show that 3D printing technology can be adapted to a variety of needs in order to ensure that, despite the injuries inflicted on them through abuse or illegal trafficking, these beautiful wild animals can go on to live long and healthy lives.
Check out the video below:
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Joe wrote at 2/29/2016 3:15:29 AM:
These are the moments that make us humans. The solution might not be permanent, but the fact that humans cared and make so much effort to help this helpless animal is fascinating and is showing that there are still many humans with inner enlightenment who care about other species and who share the world with others instead of thinking egocentrically like many industrialists and greedy businesses. I have so much respect for you guys. www.alloma.ca We share, because we care.
A parrot lover wrote at 2/27/2016 12:33:17 PM:
Great idea, but they should have studied the looks of other Macaws beaks. This one is shaped more like a hawk or eagles beak.
Larry Nemetz, DVM wrote at 2/26/2016 5:54:58 PM:
This is ONLY a temporary solution, not a lifetime solution. I would like to know what happens with this prosthetic in 6-12 months as I have been involved in dental materials and prosthetics in birds now for 27 years and prosthetic devices are not permanent solutions in the majority of cases.
Edward wrote at 2/26/2016 5:00:02 AM:
Made me tear up, some I'm glad we as humans can help out and save other animals. She seems really happy :)