Mar 11, 2016 | By Kira

3D printing has taken flight—or at least, given several beautiful birds the chance to live and soar once again. First, there was Grecia, the Costa Rican toucan fitted with a 3D printed bill, next, Gigi, a macaw in Brazil who received the world’s first titanium 3D printed beak, and who could forget Ben, the one-legged parrot? The latest case of 3D printing at the service of our feathered friends comes from Lithuania, where an injured stork can now walk again thanks to custom 3D printed leg orthoses made by Mass Portal.

The stork was initially discovered deep in the Lithuanian countryside, trapped between waste and ropes. While storks are known for their long and slender legs, this stork’s left foot was badly deformed, and its right foot was so critically injured, it could no longer stand, nevermind walk, and didn’t stand a chance at survival in the wild.

Rescuers took the bird into their care and tried several therapy solutions to relieve its pain, but none seemed to make any difference. Amputation wasn’t an option either, since the bird was unlikely to survive the stress and anesthesia of a major surgery. Instead, they had the idea of treating the bird with 3D printed orthoses. Unlike prosthetics, which are used to replace a missing body part, orthoses are designed to fit onto an existing part to increase mobility and strength—much like this 3D printed hand orthosis, which helped a young man recover from paralysis.

They thus brought the stork to Riga, Latvia-based 3D printer manufacturer Mass Portal, where co-founder Juris Klava committed to helping as best as possible. They began by measuring the bird’s legs and designing several prototype braces. In order to mimic the natural strength and flexibility of the stork’s actual legs, they chose to 3D print the orthoses using NinjaFlex flexible 3D printing filament. Choosing to 3D print them in bright orange, just like in the wild, was another thoughtful touch.

After rapidly prototyping several iterations, Mass Portal’s designers finally settled on a set of Forrest Gump-esque 3D printed braces that fit the stork perfectly. A small bit of sponge padding allows the stork to put weight on its foot without causing discomfort or pain.

Since receiving its 3D printed orthoses, the stork has been trying to walk and stand on its own, alternating from leg to leg in order to relieve pressure and slowly build up his strength. “He still depends on his caretakers for survival, but he has been given a second chance,” said Mass Portal. “We can do more today for the well-being of non-human species than we ever could before.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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christian avila wrote at 8/25/2018 2:35:51 AM:

anyone know the contact info. for the makers of this prost. leg brace for birds? please

Dima wrote at 3/12/2016 7:20:58 PM:

Seriously, it's Latvian company. Lithuania is our neighbor. ;)

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