Buttercup the duck was born with a strange birth defect. One of the little duckling’s legs faced the wrong direction. To remedy the situation, 3D printing technology has been used to create a prosthetic leg that should allow Buttercup to live a somewhat normal, albeit much more famous, life.
Before resorting to the somewhat drastic option of surgery and a 3D printed prosthesis, Buttercup’s owner tried traditional physical therapy, but this only managed to get his foot to turn partially in the right direction. Because of this, walking was a difficult task.
When therapy failed, Buttercup was sent to Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, TN, USA. Once there, his new owner Mike Garey realized that something had to be done, or the duck would have a miserable life. For one, walking on the side of its foot could lead to infections, which can have serious repercussions.
The deformed foot was removed back in February, and Garey, who is a software engineer, began looking for options for a prosthetic. Sure, the duck could have a peg leg, but he decided he would rather give Buttercup a more natural new foot.
In the end, 3D printing company NovaCopy signed on to give Buttercup a new foot using silicone instead of the rigid plastic typically found in 3D printed objects. After all, a duck foot needs to be able to flex in order to be functional.
The final design is quite interesting. It uses a stretchy silicone sock to hold the new foot in place, without being uncomfortable. It took the team a few iterations and failed designs, but it looks like Buttercup, who is currently moving around on his stump, will receive his new foot very soon.
My kind of useful geek tale.