3D printed prosthetic leg brings amputated penguin’s mobility back
For the first time, New Zealand has fitted an amputated animal with 3D-printed prosthetic foot. Meet Bagpipes – a penguin that lost its normal mobility after it got stuck in a fishing line in 2007 and its foot had to be removed in order to save its life. We have already met Tumbles – a puppy born with only two legs, who was given back his mobility with a 3D-printed wheelchair.
This little blue penguin was brought to the Christchurch Antarctic Centre after the incident and Bagpipes has been limping since then. But after nine years, Dr. Don Clucas, a senior lecturer in design and manufacturing at the University of Canterbury, designed the prosthetic limp spending 30 hours of labor making it.
He scanned Bagpipes foot and developed 3D-printed prosthetic based on obtained measurements. But it is not the final version of prosthetic; the administration is testing different models to figure the best option for Bagpipes. The current model is made of hard plastic but final fitting will be made from a rubber material with more grip and flexibility.
Bagpipes stumbled a couple of times initially but then started to walk and swim with prosthetic foot attached to the stump. Little buddy was able to stand tall and experienced body weight balanced on two feet for the first time in the last nine years.
As it turns out, 3D printing is changing lives of not just humans, but of animals too. Dr. Clucas also hope that 3D-printed prosthetic limbs would go a long way in benefiting other unfortunate animals.