3D printing helping duck get back on its feet

    6:03 AM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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    BARTLETT, TN (CNN/WMC) - 3D printer technology is giving a duck a second chance at waddling.

    This is how 3D printing works: you take a picture from a 360-degree angle and create a computer-generated 3D photo. Then a robotic arm creates a plastic model. 

    Dozens of rescued ducks and geese roam the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary. And owner Mike Garey knows just about every one by name.

    A particular duck he's taken under his wing is about to benefit from the latest technology. Buttercup was born with an inverted foot, a birth defect so painful his foot had to be amputated.

    He gets around with a peg leg, playing with his favorite stuffed teddy bear he's had since birth, and flirting with just about anyone who enters the room. But in just a few weeks, this talkative nine-month-old will be back on two feet. Garey says, "I just kind of thought let me think out of the box and come up with why can't I just make him a real foot?"

    Buttercup's sister, Minnie, modeled her foot so Garey could create a 3D computer image. Novacopy in Nashville donated their 3d printing services to produce a plastic replica. Garey says, "The printing of his foot that I needed to make the mold took 13 and a half hours."

    Buttercup's model is made of hard plastic. Garey will use it to cast a mold and make him a more flexible version that will slip onto his leg just like a boot. He says, "Buttercup's unique, he's unique, just like the rest of them, and you know it's worth doing. It's worth doing to help him out."

    Buttercup should have his new foot just in time for his national television debut on "The Today Show."

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