A 3D Printed Prosthetic Saved This Indian Hornbill’s Life

Indian Hornbill 3D print

When Indian Hornbill Crescent was diagnosed with cancer, medical researchers turned to 3D printing to save the bird’s life.

Crescent was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, common skin cancer in humans that can be deadly in birds. The only option was to cut a section of the bird’s beak off to remove the cancerous cells, but researchers needed a way to restore the beak so the bird could lead a normal life.

Enter 3D printing!

Formlabs and a University of South Florida medical team decided to team up to 3D print a biocompatible prosthetic for Crescent. The resin of choice was BioMed White, designed for prosthetics for humans and animals.

Prosthetic for Indian Hornbill

Crescent’s beak was scanned with a CT scan to determine which section of the beak needed removing. A 3D model of the beak was then created in CAD software and adapted to include enough support area for attachment.

The model was designed to fit the gap in Crescent’s casque in keeping with the bird’s natural beak. Cutting away the bill and etching the surface allowed the prosthetic to be screwed in place, creating a permanent seal.

Oil from her preening glands was then used to stain the prosthetic, helping it blend in naturally with the rest of her bill.


“Clinical literature has shown improved outcomes when patient-specific prosthetics, medical devices, and surgical guides have been used with human patients,” said Formlabs’ director of medical market development, Guarav Manchanda. “We’re thrilled that our technology was also able to bring these benefits to Crescent.”

The successful prosthetics procedure illustrates the medical potential for 3D printing. Prosthetics is one of the most useful applications, enabling medical researchers to design and prototype solutions quickly.

Formlabs printers are based on SLA (stereolithography) technology, which selectively cures liquid resin with a laser. Finished models are then cured with UV light to achieve the desired physical properties ready for end-use.

Source: CNET.