In another medical first for the 3D printing world, a sea turtle is able to swim again with the help of a 3D printed custom jaw implant.
The 45-kg sea turtle was left severely wounded after being hit by a boat propeller in Turkey and lost two-thirds of its upper and lower jaw. The turtle was rescued by a Turkish animal rescue team and taken to the Dalyan Iztuzu Pamukkale University (PAU), Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre where it was attended to until it began to regain its health.
Still unable to eat by itself, volunteers from the centre searched for a solution to reconstruct the turtle’s beak which led them to Turkish 3D printing service provider BTech Innovation.
Designs for custom 3D printed implants.
Using CT scans, the company applied Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite to design the beak implant using exact data from the turtle’s anatomy. With a team of veterinarians and surgeons, the company produced the final design in 3-matic which was then manufactured from medical grade titanium, and sent to Dalaman for surgery.
“It was so exciting to visit the rehabilitation centre and see our implant on its moving jaw,” BTech Innovation’s CEO Kuntay Aktaş, commented on the Materialise blog. “[this sea turtle] was a pretty big animal of about 45 kg and its jaw bite force was enormous. We performed thorough movement analyses and finite element analysis before finalising and manufacturing the implant.”
The beak was successfully fitted onto the turtle using multiple screws and is now recuperating in the rehabilitation centre. Once the turtle is able to eat without help, it will be able to return to the sea.
3D printed solutions have been improving the lives of humans and animals alike with its ability to deliver and customised patient specific implants and offer rapid manufacturing time for assistive design.
Advances in the veterinarian world have been welcomed by the likes of Dudley the Duck who is walking again thanks to a new 3D printed foot and medical startup, Fusion Implants who have been creating canine 3D printed implants to repair damage and improve mobility of injured dogs.