This red-crowned crane named Lili got her beak broken after losing a fight with another bird at a zoo in Guangzhou.
Tragically, Lili was unable to feed herself with her damaged beak and might have died if zookeepers hadn’t thought of an innovative solution — a 3D-printed beak implant.
Xinhua reports that various plastic models of the beak implant were made to see how it would fit before they printed out the final product in titanium, choosing the material because of its strength and anti-corrosive characteristics. The bird is estimated to have 50 years of life ahead of it and a beak made of plastic wouldn’t last that long.
After a 30-minute-long installation procedure, Lili showed off her new beak by catching fish inside this bucket.
In the past, 3D printing technology has been put to various medical uses. Humans in China have benefited from the technology by receiving hand implants, hip joint implants and even skull implants.
Let’s hope that Lili is the forgiving type. Or else the other birds will be needing 3D-printed replacements for their own various body parts soon.
By Victor Fung
[Images via Xinhua]