Apr 19, 2016 | By Tess

Philip the duck, like a number of animals before him, has been given a new lease on life thanks to the kindness of a few people and the capabilities of 3D printing technologies.

Philip, a duck living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, tragically lost his two feet due to frostbite, and after being taken in by animal lover Vicki Rabe-Harrison, who set out to help him. After unsuccessfully trying to help the duck herself, and finding that the bird’s quality of life was quite poor without the ability to walk properly, Rabe-Harrison made the difficult decision to have Phillip put down.

Within literally an hour of the scheduled vet appointment, Rabe-Harrison got an urgent call from Mr. Jischke, an engineering teacher at South Park Middle School, who said he was making Philip a set of plastic prosthetic feet using the school’s new 3D printer. Overjoyed that Philip might yet be saved, Rabe-Harrison cancelled the vet appointment and brought Phillip to try on his new feet.

While the initial set of 3D printed flippers were not the perfect fit, Mr. Jischke and Vicki Rabe-Harrison spent the next six weeks finding better solutions, finally settling on a set of orange, fitted feed made from a flexible NinjaFlex filament that reportedly took 36 hours to print.

Philip, who was fitted with the 3D printed feet with many eager eyes watching, took to the 3D printed prosthetics rather quickly, at first stumbling but then gaining his footing. As Rabe-Harrison describes, “He picked it up real fast, and I’m sure he’ll learn to balance again and be able to waddle around with all the other ducks.”

Now that he has a second chance at life, Philip has been moved to his new home on the Autumn Farm animal sanctuary, where he will continue to adjust to his new 3D printed feet. Alyssa Herbst, who runs the sanctuary along with her husband Brandon, explains, “It’s really important to us that we give exceptional care to each of our animals in our sanctuary.”

The animal sanctuary, which is run with the help of a number of volunteers, houses many types of animals, including chickens, sheep, goats, ponies, and ducks. Philip is expected to have a safe and happy home there.

While the duck is able to walk again with the 3D printed feet made by Mr. Jischke, the Herbsts are hopeful that with the help of a college engineering department, they will find a more permanent solution for Philip’s feet, giving the lucky duck an even greater quality of life.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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