Building Bird Beaks w/ 3-D Printing

My name is Dr. Greg Burkett.  I am a Board Certified Avian Veterinarian and I see exclusively birds in my practice.  The mission of our medical team is to provide the best care anywhere for our avian patients, with the primary goal of improving their quality of life.   Our goal is accomplished using many medical procedures.  One of the more exciting procedures that we do is applying prosthetics.  I am proud to be one of the pioneers in the field of prosthetics for birds.  I have returned to many birds the ability to walk, swim, fly, eat, and preen their feathers, all activities that are vital for life.  

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 -  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.
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    • $10 
    • 54 mos
  • Katherine Kim 
    • $20 
    • 54 mos
  • Faye McIntosh 
    • $50 
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  • Ruben Giral 
    • $200 
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Greg Burkett 
Hillsborough, NC
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