3D printing technologies face real progress in providing animals' prosthetics.
A turtle that lost nearly 60 % of its jaw got a newly 3D printed one. The turtle will be able to return to the wild and eat on its own.
"3D printing technology uses additive design to create models out of plastic, metal, ceramic, and even living cells. BTech Innovation spent several months analyzing CT scans with computer assisted design software to create a model of the turtle's beak. Then, they used a 3D printer to build a replacement jaw in medical-grade titanium."
As an example, another turtle has also been the fortunate recipient of a 3D printed shell as a temporary measure in its healing process.
"A student at Colorado Technical University designed a 3D printed shell for a tortoise that suffered from pyramiding, a condition that, due to poor nutrition, cause her shell to develop pyramid-like growths, holes and broken parts. However, the biodegradable corn-based plastic shell cap will protect the tortoise until its shell heals."
3D printing promises to be a vastly more cost effective approach for the replacement of both body tissues and parts. While the synthetic materials which are often used in the final 3D printed products may cause biocompatibility problems, at the very least they can be used on a temporary basis. They will also likely serve as transitional templates for living tissues and organs that are substantially more expensive to produce.
Wild animals in particular will benefit greatly from 3D printing since it will enable many of the seriously injured to return to the wild.