3D printed beak gives turtle a new chance at life

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In Turkey, a sea turtle struck by tragedy when a boat propeller hacked off a part of its jaw has a new claim to life thanks to a 3D printed beak courtesy of technology firm BTech Innovation and the veterinarians responsible for completing the procedure.

injured turtleWith significant damage to its lower and upper jaws, a Turkish animal rescue team found the sea turtle floating in the ocean and nearly dead. The rescuers rushed the turtle to Dalyan Iztuzu Pamukkale University’s Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. There, the turtle was nursed back to health and its wounds healed. Given the extent of the turtle’s injuries, however, a reunion with Ariel looked bleak since turtles reliant on hand feeding can’t survive on their own in the wild. It was then that the rescuers decided to take drastic action, reaching out to Turkey’s “first private R&D corporation” and a medical 3D printing company, BTech.

Ordinary turtle turned first ever cyborg

3D-printed-jaw-implant-for-sea-turtleWhen approached by the proposition, BTech CEO Kuntay AKTAŞ not only agreed to take on the challenge of 3D printing a custom beak for the turtle but also offered all related services and procedures free of charge. 

First, BTech research took CT scans of the turtle’s face and jaw and then converted them into 3D models using a sophisticated software program called Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite. Using movement analysis and other design software, a team of veterinarians, surgeons and BTech researchers succeeded in creating a near perfect replica of the turtle’s original beak. 

healing turtleOnce a medical team approved of the design, the mold was 3D printed using medical-grade titanium and airmailed to a medical facility where an audience of physicians watched surgeons complete the first successful implant of a 3D printed turtle jaw.

And best of all, the turtle seems to be doing just fine, and is currently waiting to be released back into the ocean after antibiotics and rehab finish the job of fully healing this wonderful, 45-kg turtle. 

About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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