A turtle will soon return to the seas, thanks to a powerful, fully-customized 3D-printed beak.
Turkish animal rescuers have got a sea turtle that was badly injured a new 3D-printed beak that has allowed the sea creature to fully regain its ability to live in the wild and fend for itself. The rescuers had found the poor creature, almost lifeless at sea. Looking at the gaping hole near the mouth, the rescuers assumed a boat propeller was responsible for shaving off a huge part of the snout.
Though the turtle miraculously escaped death, it was unable to sustain itself since the beak is a very critical appendage to forage food. Upon the rescue, the rescuers at Dalyan Iztuzu Pamukkale University (PAU), Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center took to hand-feed the creature. Though the turtle regained his health, it was the rescuers’ endeavor to ensure the sea turtle returned to its natural habitat and therein began the search for a way to rebuild what was ruthlessly and carelessly chopped off.
The rescuers contacted 3D printing service provider BTech Innovation, who in turn gladly agreed to repair of a sea turtle’s upper and lower jaws with artificial, customized prosthetics. Interestingly, the company claims it has printed its fair share of artificial patient-specific implants, but confirmed this was their first attempt at designing and building one for an animal.
So overwhelmed was the team at BTech Innovation, the CEO Kuntay AKTAŞ decided to provide all of their services for free. As Turkey’s “first private R&D Corporation” it wasn’t an easy decision, but the CEO reasoned it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The company converted their aquatic patient’s CT scans into 3D models using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite. In collaboration with veterinarians and surgeons, the team designed an exact replica of the turtle’s beak and the adjoining region that had broken off and healed incorrectly.
Turtles sport a very powerful set of upper and lower jaws that can exert bone-crunching pressure. Fortunately, the turtle was a full grown adult, and there was no risk of him outgrowing the beak. Using medical-grade titanium, the team designed and fabricated a one-of-a-kind beak that looks straight out of a sci-fi film and simply airmailed it to the surgical team.
The beak has been fitted with multiple screws and the turtle is presently recuperating. The rescuers expect the sea turtle to return to his life under the sea soon.
[Image Credit | BTech Innovation]