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3D Printed Bird Beak

3D Print reports on a scintillating avian-themed story spilling out of Singapore.  Apparently, researchers at Jurong Bird Park have 3D printed a beak for a great hornbill bird.

This 22-year-old male great hornbill “was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the casque (or the bill).”  So, “researchers and veterinarians in Singapore began working together to create an artificial replacement.”  This was so they could “offer a better quality of life for the bird as a portion of the bone of his beak was cancerous – a common affliction for such birds, with medical treatment usually proving to be ‘unrewarding.’”

After they decided “to excise the tissue (as there were no signs of the cancer having metastasized), the researchers went on to design and 3D print a customized surgical guide for the procedure and then a prosthesis – allowing the bird to go forth as comfortably and naturally as possible.”

“The team decided to fit the 3D printed prosthesis after excision, taking great care to create a design identical to the beak in order to avoid any effect on acoustic functionality of the casque area.  Both the surgical guide and the prosthesis were created on an EOS P396 3D printer, with around 12 hours printing time required.”

The result?  Success!

According to the team: “observation of this bird in his usual captive environment suggests there is complete acceptance of the 3D printed prosthesis as part of its own body. This is evident from hornbill’s displaying natural coloration behavior, which coupled with the ability of the material used to take up biological pigments, enabled the prosthetic casque to appear similar in color and texture to the original rhinotheca.”

The team concludes, based on the outcome of this process, “medical imaging and 3D printing can be considered a useful approach in the design and production of customized surgical cutting guides and prostheses in veterinary surgery.”

Additionally, “collaboration between designers, engineers, and veterinarians throughout the design process can result in a customized prosthesis permitting natural behaviors with good acceptance.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Print

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