Scientists are learning how use 3-D printing to make tortoise shells and bird beaks for injured animals
After losing most of its shell in a wildfire in Brazil, a tortoise nicknamed Freddy recently received the world’s first 3D printed tortoise shell as a replacement.
The tortoise was found barely alive – with 85% of its protective shell burned away – by a group of veterinarians in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who call themselves the “Animal Avengers.”
Named after the hit Marvel comic series, The Avengers, Dr. Cicero Moraes — “the Hulk” — designed a 3D printed shell that’s almost indestructible, much like the Hulk himself.
The 3D printing process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer design by adding material, such as corn plastic, layer by layer.
His colleague, Dr. Paulo Miamoto — “Vision” — printed the shell in in four separate pieces. This four-piece jigsaw puzzle snapped together perfectly around Freddy’s body.
While there was little of the surviving shell to work with, “Iron Man” surgeon Dr. Roberto amalgamated a prosthetic to cover what Freddy, named after Freddy Cougar, lost in the fire. He even came up with a custom paint job, so Freddy could look more like her natural self.
The Animal Avengers, have not only helped Freddy, they’ve also used this technology to build new beaks for parrots, macaws and geese. The tortoise’s new shell, however, is the world’s first.
“We first came together as friends because of our common love of science and animals,” Dr. Fecchio told The Mirror
“We soon realized we could do some extraordinary work using cutting-edge technology to push back the boundaries of life-saving care for mutilated animals by giving them customized prostheses.”