Avian Expert Articles

New Technology Allows For A “Printable” Beak

Toucan missing billWe live in a quite a technological age. With advancements made in multiple fields that include computing, electronics, healthcare, and many other intriguing areas and products, we have improved on our ways of living. One of our greatest, more prolific inventions, the computer, has been around for a lot longer than it seems. It has gone through an amazing revolution of innovations, and continues to do so at an accelerating rate.

One of the extending innovations of computing is 3D printing. 3D printing is a progressive technology that involves the use of base materials that, when controlled by a computer, can form and create many things by use of a specialized ink-jet head. The head is part of a magnificent machine that takes a 3D software-generated design and “prints” out the intended part. To date, there have been many realizations of life-changing — and lifesaving — 3D printed things that will inevitably change the world that we live in. As it changes and becomes a better technology, companies will be able to use these printers to make longer lasting engine blocks, new blood veins and arteries, useable limbs, fully functional internal organs, even perfect houses that we will live in. For the future, there is even confidence that we may one day be able to 3D print our own food.

How 3D Printing Saved A Toucan

One of the many ways that 3D printing is helping out in the bird world is seen by a recent attack on a friendly Costa Rican Toucan by the name of Grecia. In January, a group of teen-aged children captured and tortured Grecia, eventually breaking off the top of his long beak and leaving him for dead. The toucan was found, taken to a nearby pet hospital where he was treated by a local veterinarian. However, the beak, as it would appear, was irreplaceable. In times past, such an injury would be untreatable. But with today’s impressive technology, the incredible advancement of 3D printing will be used to create and restore the beak for Grecia.

After news of the injured bird spread, an Indiegogo campaign (a crowd-funding source that allows people like you and I to contribute funds to any kind of project) was started to help fund the creation of a newly printed beak for Grecia. To date, more than $9,500 has been raised, of which only $5000 was needed. (Thank you, beautiful people!) The remaining money will help fund the building of a hospital in Costa Rica to assist in the care and treatment of exotic animals.

Without the beak, Grecia would have been unable to return to his wild habitat. The loss of the beak would have made him vulnerable to predators. In addition, the colorful beak is required for a toucan to find a mate.

The beak is being made by OrthoPets, a prosthetic company from Denver, Colorado. With the funds raised by generous animal lovers, a new beak for Grecia will now be made a reality thanks to the magic of our amazing technology, the marvel of 3D printing, and the love of people.

We truly do live in a beautiful world.

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