Building Bird Beaks w/ 3-D Printing
One of the more common procedures is applying beak prosthetics. My team was even featured in a PBS documentary about animal prosthetics, called My Bionic Pet, when we gave a swan a better quality of life with a new bill. The show can be seen on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ey0fDtMs0k. My segment begins at 37:13.
We help many ducks, geese, crows, parrots, chickens, swans, and others. Most of these patients are birds from sanctuaries, rescues, or found helpless in the wild. In these cases, I provide my time free of charge and only charge a small amount above my cost for the materials I use; typically 10%.
The procedure of beak reconstruction currently requires that I use acrylic and other materials, then grind or carve it into the shape that is natural for that bird, process which generally takes at least 4 hours. Although this method is effective, I know that I can do better. The improvements that need to be made to these methods are: 1) to use a lighter weight material - which would make it less cumbersome and easier for the patients to use; 2) to use a material that requires little or no hand shaping - grinding and carving cause vibrations which are uncomfortable for the patient, may weaken the prosthetic, and increase anesthesia time; and 3) to use a material that is durable - which would eliminate the need for replacing the prosthetic, or increase the time between replacements.
All of these improvements to my current methods can easily be accomplished using a 3-D printer. By using a 3-D printer, we: 1) will have stronger material that is lightweight and durable; 2) will be able to more closely match the natural color; and 3) will have a detailed prosthetic that is true to life; and 4) will eliminate the need to grind and carve the prosthetic.
I ask you on the behalf of all birds to help us improve the quality of life for those birds who have suffered from trauma or disease. It is a tiny gesture with a gigantic reward knowing that you are making it possible for us to provide these birds with a better life and the best care anywhere.
I know I speak for all of those birds, and certainly for my team when I say thank you so much for your support.