WATCH: Bald Eagle gets new beak--from 3D printer

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY,   |   Sept. 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM
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Beauty the bald eagle was the victim of a terrible accident.

The top half of Beauty's beak was shattered, shot off by a poacher in 2005, leaving her unable to care for herself in the wild, feed or preen herself.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Beauty will now get another chance. Birds of Prey Northwest medic Jane Fink Cantwell teamed up with mechanical engineer Nate Calvin, of Kinetic Engineering Group, who proposed the creation of a groundbreaking bionic beak.

"As a biologist and a realist, I understand there is some probability of the beak not staying attached forever," Cantwell said, as a response to the naysayers. "But why not give it the college try?"

With the help of a 3D CAD modeling program called SolidWorks, Calvin used the advice of wildlife experts to design and then "print out" the prosthetic beak. The beak is made from a nylon-based polymer, and was fitted to what's left of Beauty's beak by a dentist using a similar procedure as preparing a set of dentures.

Through a two-hour process, the team carefully reshaped the prosthesis for a perfect fit, then anchored it onto Beauty's natural beak using metal mount.

Although Beauty is still living in the care of Birds of Prey Northwest, she is now capable of feeding and preening herself, and appears in educational presentations.

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