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3D Printing & A Duck’s Left Foot

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Shutterstock/Andrii Kondiuk

Shutterstock/Andrii Kondiuk

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it just might be a duck named Buttercup that has a 3D printed foot.

Over the last year, you may have noticed an increasing amount of news about 3D printing. It’s rather confusing to think about initially, but a recent LegalZoom article about the process may help to explain how a 3D printer works.

“As the machine begins laying down layers of “ink,” the software directs it to make minute changes to each layer, so that its shape begins to emerge as it gains depth. For this reason, 3D printing is known as an “additive” manufacturing process, as compared with traditional manufacturing processes that are “subtractive.” …  Building objects layer upon layer makes it possible to create more complex objects than could be achieved with subtractive manufacturing. 3D printing is faster than traditional manufacturing because no special tooling is needed. It’s economical because there is no waste and it can be done on a small scale.”

The small scale that be achieved with 3D printing includes the creation of a custom foot for Buttercup the duck. A Mashable article explains that Buttercup was born with a backwards left foot and was unable to walk properly. 3D printing company NovaCopy printed a replica of a normal duck’s left foot, then used that copy to make a silcone foot that fit Buttercup perfectly. The prosthetic foot was attached to a custom sock and now Buttercup is walking like a duck too.

The technology of 3D printing continues to rapidly improve and is becoming cheaper. A TechRepublic article says that disruption of many industries will be happening on a massive scale.

“Educators can print tools or designs in schools. Artists will have a new medium to work with. Healthcare providers can quickly create what they need in-house. Parents will be able to replace toys or broken household items in a matter of hours.”

While most of us have never seen a 3D printer in person, it seems that within just a few years, we may all be enjoying some of the benefits.

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February 24th, 2014 at 8:10 am

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