Interesting story at RapidReadyTech.com of how Buttercup the Duck received a 3D-printed prosthetic foot:
In January 2013, a local high school student contacted Garey in search of a home for Buttercup, a domestic duck she had inherited from a high school science class. Buttercup was born with a malformed foot, and for two and a half months the student had hand-raised him, but was no longer able to. Garey agreed to take in the duck, but quickly realized two things. First, that Buttercup did not know he was a duck due to his lack of feathered socialization; and second, that Buttercup was unable to effectively socialize because his foot caused him extreme discomfort in the yard.
With Buttercup’s first steps in front of Garey, Buttercup’s malformed foot started to bleed. Garey wondered if preserving the foot made sense, so he consulted a veterinarian and confirmed that amputating would improve Buttercup’s mobility. “I’d seen plenty of birds get around well on a peg leg, but as I started to think about it, I wondered if it would help Buttercup’s sociability if he had a foot,” Garey said. “These birds are so smart and have such great personalities, so I thought that if it were in my power to improve Buttercup’s quality of life, I should do that.” Garey liked the idea of 3D printing because it seemed like the perfect answer to the question of how to fashion a precise, custom part to his exact specifications without trading time for complexity, or vice versa. Garey started researching his available options for 3D file creation and 3D printing, and came across NovaCopy, a Tennessee supplier of 3D printers and 3D printing solutions. The compassion and positivity of Garey’s aim immediately compelled NovaCopy to agree to help with printing. If Garey could provide a 3D file, NovaCopy could run it through one of their machines, no problem. By taking multiple pictures of another duck’s foot from all angles, Gary used 3D imaging software to create a 3D model. Then, with CAD software and NovaCopy’s feedback, Garey tweaked and modified the data into a prosthetic foot design. Garey sent off the final design for NovaCopy to print, and NovaCopy selected one of its 3D Systems machines for the task – the ProJet HD 3000Plus – due to the machine’s high-resolution capabilities.
I think it’s pretty clear that we’re only scratching the surface of what 3D printing will be able to accomplish. I also suspect that its veterinary uses will outstrip its medical uses if only because of how much more highly regulated medical applications are.
It will not only be a technological revolution; it will be a social and economic one.