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Student researchers use 3D printer to create an artificial bill for a goose maimed by a raccoon

A domestic Chinese goose was given a replacement bill from a 3D printer after a raccoon attack left its natural bill partially torn off.

The goose, named Bruce, was kept as a pet by an animal-friendly family in Utah, alongside a duck and a golden retriever.

After the raccoon attack, the family took the injured goose to a local shelter for injured animals, which worked with the nearby Bridgeland Technical College to create a 3D-printed replacement beak.

The school turned to students in Cache Makers, a special program focused on uisng science and math principles in farming and agriculture, according to a report in Popular Mechanics.

A group of students spent several days creating 3D models to test on the Goose, then used a 3D printer to produce different iterations with Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene filament, a form of plastic used to make LEGOs and other toys.

When they settled on a final design, they used a dental glue normally reserved for attaching crowns to fix the 3D-printed shell to the remnants of the goose’s natural bill.

Without the artificial bill, the goose had been shunned by other geese in the shelter because of its strange appearance.

The damaged bill also left the goose’s mouth exposed, causing its tongue to dry out and impeding its ability to eat, drink, and groom itself.

While the students were working on the final replacement bill, shelter workers had to keep the goose’s mouth manually lubricated with coconut oil.

After the replacement bill was finally attached, the goose was initially uncomfortable. 

‘At first, he shook his head, like rejecting it,’ one of the Cache Makers told WZDX News. 

‘But then he started moving his mouth up and down, starting to use the beak, and it was really cool.’

According to Jenny Kearl, director of Cache Makers, the project was inspiring both for the goose, who quickly regained his self-confidence and sociability with the new beak, and for the students.

‘It’s the first [prosthesis] we’ve ever done here, Kearl said. ‘It got the kids more excited about projects they can do.’

 

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