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3D printing helps traumatized goose move on after raccoon attack

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3D printed goose bill

3D printing once again proved invaluable after giving a new lease on life to a traumatized goose in the aftermath of a raccoon attack. A pet Chinese goose called Bruce was helped by Utah students after losing half of its beak to a hungry trash panda earlier in March. What once would have been a life-threatening injury was largely alleviated with the help of 3D printing as Bruce is now said to be on the road of making a total recovery.


A solution that fits the bill – literally

As seen in materials provided herein, the raccoon scuffle left Bruce with the entire top half of his beak missing. Bill damage tends to make eating difficult to impossible, depending on severity and species. Bruce fell somewhere on the middle of that spectrum and was finding it challenging to adapt to his new reality. His Utah family then contacted an Idaho animal rescue operation, Sandy Haven, which in turn reached out to STEM and arts nonprofit Cache Makers, inquiring about the possibility of employing tech to alleviate Bruce’s misery.

“This guy wants to be here, he wants to live. We’ve got to figure out a way to help him,” recalled Sandy Haven director Susan Curtis. What followed was a highly creative application of 3D printing and related technologies which ultimately led to the creation of a brand new bill extension for Bruce.

After taking precise measurements and doing some research, Cache Makers decided on using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) to print Bruce’s new beak. This filament type, supported by both 3D FDM and FFF printers, is commonly used in modern children’s toys due to its extreme durability, as well as some other extra qualities including chemical resistance. Perhaps the most recognizable toys made thereof are LEGO bricks.

The prosthetic was attached to what remained of Bruce’s natural beak using dental adhesive. Finding a model that perfectly (and literally) fit the bill wasn’t straightforward, requiring numerous returns to the drawing board, Cache Makers staff revealed. The final iteration even includes artificial nostrils which helped with Bruce’s breathing problems, another consequence of the unfortunate attack.

But the effort was ultimately successful, allowing Bruce to adjust to his new circumstances and learn how to eat without complications. The heartwarming episode that highlights the humanitarian potential of 3D printing solutions ended with Sandy Haven agreeing to keep Bruce as a therapy animal.

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