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Just when we thought we had seen all the magical things that 3D printing can do, here comes another - A working prosthetic leg that has transformed the life of a little Canadian duckling called Dudley, who had been struggling to get by after losing a leg in an epic battle with a chicken!
The saga began on August 19th, 2013, when the newly-born Dudley and his brother, were placed inside a chicken coop at the K9-1-1 Animal and Rescue Services in Sicamous, British Columbia. Within a few hours, an aggressive chicken attacked the two, killing Dudley's brother and leaving him, without a leg!
While Dudley could swim with his single leg, he had a hard time walking on firm ground. Determined to help him, Doug Nelson, the co-owner of the shelter decided to consult Terence Loring, founder of a design firm that amongst other things also offers, 3D printing designs.
Given that he had just launched 3 Pillar Designs, Terence was a little hesitant to take on a duckling as his first client. But as soon as he saw brave little Dudley waddling around on one leg, Terence knew he had to do something. He began by watching YouTube videos about ducks to see how their legs worked. Then, using his biomedical engineering training, Terence spent the next few weeks creating a 3D template. Once ready, he sent them to Ontario-based 3D engineering firm Proto3000, who agreed to print the leg, pro bono.
Unfortunately, the first leg broke at the hinge shortly after it was fitted on Dudley. So, the young engineer went back to the drawing board and this time, designed a hinge-less version. It worked like a charm. When the artificial leg that is printed from strong ABS (a thermoplastic that becomes soft and moldable when heated) and attached to a foot designed from soft and flexible rubber-like plastic, was fitted on Dudley, his whole demeanor changed. He wagged his tail and waddled over to show it off to his best pal - A pot bellied pig called Elsie.
Of course, as Dudley has been growing, the leg and foot have had to be replaced. But that hasn't bothered Terence who continues to improve the design so that each new version is better than the previous one. The best part is, that Terence has put all the designs on his website so that anyone wishing to help out an animal suffering from a similar trauma can do so, by simply hitting the print button on his/her 3D printer!
Resources: 3dprintingindustry.com, dailymail.co.uk