3D-Printed Shell to Save Tortoise’s Life

Margherita Olivo
May 26th 2016

It is widely known that 3D printing is a revolutionary technology. Several surgeons and medical students are using it to improve the learning process and to advance medical science, forging new frontiers in the field. Of course bio-printing will be the next step, but until it becomes widely adopted, 3D can still save lives. We are familiar with several interventions where this technology helped save human lives, such as the 3D printed face and skull, but in this case we're talking about saving defenseless, animal lives.

Fred is a female tortoise from the South American region of Brasilia. Last year she was severely injured in a violent forest fire and was found nearly-dead by a veterinarian a few weeks later. Her conditions were very bad and her shell completely destroyed. It took a forward-thinking team of veterinarians and doctors, known as the Animal Avengers, to save her life. By taking multiple pictures of her and of similar specimens, they were able to 3D print a perfectly new shell. During the surgery they noticed that it was fitting so perfectly that no screws were required to keep it in place.

Soon she became the symbol of how technology, in specific 3D printing, can benefit all forms of life thanks to its obvious versatility. This case is inspiring doctors and especially veterinarians around the world to adopt the same technique in similar situations. The only thing that was not working out perfectly was its aspect. That is why the team asked Brazilian artist Yuri Caldera to paint the replica to make it look like the tortoise-shell Fred was born with. “This is a mark in veterinary medicine” said Dr. Rodrigo Rabello, who found Fred and named her after the horror movie icon. “It is the first prosthetic of a 3D shell of a tortoise in the world. From now on we will have a new age. Specially when it comes to wild animals".

3d printed shell fred tortoise

Source and images: Animal Avengers

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