A rare red-crowned crane has received its very own 3D printed beak after breaking the upper part in a fight with another bird.
The red-crowned crane is known for its signature patch of bright red skin and is one of the rarest crane species in the world, often recognized as a symbol of good luck.
Lili, a red-crowned crane from a zoo in Guangzhou, China, was sadly unable to eat after breaking her beak in a fight. Thankfully, Chinese vets came to the rescue with a 3D printed prosthesis.
The injury occurred last Spring and was treated quickly by vets, but the initial surgical treatment caused a severe infection.
Once they had treated the infection, the doctors realized more had to be done to help the six-year-old bird survive — especially as red-crowned cranes have a life expectancy of 50 or 60 years.
3D Printed Beak Made From Titanium
Dean Wu Zijun, from the Leader Animal Hospital in Guangzhou, came up with the innovative solution of using 3D printing to create a beak implant.
The Guangzhou Yang Ming Technology Company were on hand to help out with their knowledge of 3D printing plastic molds, as well as the Additive Manufacturing laboratory at the South China University of Technology.
Before the perfect beak was created, the team went through a process of creating many different plastic models to see exactly how it would fit. They then printed the final beak in surgical grade titanium metal.
This material was chosen because it is the longest lasting option, which should match the life expectancy of the bird, as well as having strong and anti-corrosive properties.
The surgery took place on July 10th and was led by Dr. Wu Zijun and Dr. Xie Guanhui with much success. The new 3D printed beak was implanted in just 30 minutes, and when Lili woke up she was quickly able to catch fish in a bucket once more.
With her titanium beak, Lili is now the toughest bird in the zoo. Hopefully she won’t be getting into any more fights.
License: The text of "Bird in Guangzhou Zoo Receives 3D Printed Beak" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.