Is 3d printing really useful or is it just a novelty to print out small silly objects to clutter your desk?
This really is the question, but it looks like the eagle of this story will definitely think it’s a useful technology, having given her again the ability to feed herself and be autonomous.
This magnificent bald eagle has been injured by a hunter and the remaining piece of beak was insufficient for there to groom and feed. A bionic beak has been modeled in 3d and then printed on a 3D printer with nylon, glued on the remaining piece of beak with the help of a dentist.
Though the story certainly is interesting and the eagle looks much better and is finally capable of grooming herself and eating something by herself I have some concerns. In the various web sites that give the news it’s stated that the author took 18 months to develop the prototype of the beak using 3D scanning and Stereolithography technology. What sounds absurd is the amount of time it took him. I’m no 3d genius, but in 18 months a good artisan could have carved it out of any material, using 3D scanning should take a couple of days not a year and a half!
The second strange thing is that this information is of 2009, the video of the procedure reach vimeo in 2010 but I can’t find any recent info about it though the story was bouncing all over the net this summer.
I also found out that this is absolutely not the first case, and another eagle had it’s beak replaced several times from 2001 onward, with the help of a dentist and without 3d printing techniques
So, though it’s certainly an interesting possibility of 3d printing usage, this particular case is not shocking or fascinating by itself: it’s an old story (2008), not the first case being treated with prosthesis (already done in 2001 on another eagle more than 10 times) and not a very good example of making things faster or more economic using 3d printing (18 months????)
With this said, have a look at the video which is very nice because it shows the eagle before and after the prosthesis, and it sure is a nice improvement.