An injured sea turtle has become the unlikely beneficiary of 3D printing technology, with a Turkish company managing to provide the animal with a much-needed jaw implant. The turtle was seriously wounded in an encounter with a boat propellor, but is now on the road to recovery thanks to an imaginative medical team.
The 99 lb (45 kg) turtle was nearly lifeless when a rescue team came across it floating in the sea. The rescuers took the animal back to Turkey's Dalyan Iztuzu Pamukkale University (PAU), where they tended to its injuries and fed it until it was in a stable condition.
From there, it teamed up with 3D printing service provider BTech to produce a custom beak. This process saw CT scans translated to 3D models, which were then turned into replica of the turtle's upper and lower jaws. Finally, the design was 3D printed in medical-grade titanium and was successfully implanted by a surgical team.
At present, the turtle is recovering from its procedure with the help of antibiotics. The rescue team anticipates that it will make a full recovery, at which point it will be released back into the wild.
This isn't the first time 3D printing has come to the aid of members of the animal kingdom. Late last year a class of fifth graders 3D printed a prosthetic leg for a box turtle. Not long before that, 3D Systems printed a new prosthesis for a disabled dog, enabling it to run for the first time.
You can see the turtle's new jaw in action in the Turkish-language video below.