Sunday, January 26, 2014

3D Printed Leg gives Duck New Confidence

The 3D printed foot to be attached to the Dudley

Dudley the Duck was living in an animal shelter with his brother and several chickens when several months ago some of the chickens decided to attack the ducks.  They killed Dudley’s brother, and damaged his leg severely enough to require amputation of the foot and part of the leg.  While Dudley could still swim around, he had a lot of trouble getting around on land, and it even caused him to be the victim of more ‘animal bullying.’
When Terence Loring heard about this, he decided to see what he could do to help.  Terence is a mechanical engineer and architect, who also happened to know quite a bit about 3D Printing.  He worked with a local firm, Proto3000, who agreed to allow him to use their 3D printer for free. 
They scanned Dudley’s good foot, and made a mirror image to ensure it would match up well in size and shape.  A simple structure that consisted of an upper-leg, a lower-leg, the joint and the foot was printed off and attached to Dudley.  After some getting used to, he was able to walk around with ease.  The foot was made from a flexible rubber-mimic plastic, which help ensure easy placement and walking.

When interviewed, Loring said “He has a little friend, a pot bellied pig called Elsie that pushes him around.  When he got his leg, the first thing he did was go push the pig around.  You can really see the excitement that he can move around”

He continues to make adjustments and improvements to the leg, and is printing new versions as the duck grows.  Given that the process was relatively simple and inexpensive, Loring hopes he will be able to help other animals in the future.  He has even published the 3D files publically so anyone can download them and use them to help animals in their own area. 

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