Phillip the duck lost both his feet to frostbite during the harsh winter in Wisconsin this year. But thanks to some 3D printing and a generous stranger, he's now able to walk comfortably again.
Phillip was taken in by Vicki Rabe-Harrison from Pickett, Wisconsin. After trying to care for the handicapped duck, she realized he might be beyond rehabilitation and begun looking into getting him put down. By chance, Vicki came across the 3D printing videos of a local middle school technology and design teacher, Jason Jischke. In a last ditch effort, she sent him an email to see if there was any chance his 3D printer could be used to help.
But, somewhat dramatically, while Mr Jischke had already begun printing the pair of custom-made duck boots following the message, he didn't tell Vicki help was on its way until it was almost too late.
“We literally were an hour away from putting him down when I got the call from Jason,” Vicki Rabe-Harrison told local news station WBAY.
It’s been a process of trial and error with many prototypes, but Phillip is just about getting used to the feet. Vicki is also confident he’ll be able to comfortably walk, waddle and even swim once he gets used his new kicks.
“He picked it up real fast, and I’m sure he’ll learn to balance again and be able to waddle around with all the other ducks,” Vicki added.
This isn’t the first time 3D printing has provided a helping hand to animals in need. The ability to customize shapes and materials makes 3D printing a popular choice for creating prosthetics. In the past, the technique has been used to create a new beak for an injured toucan in Brazil, a wheelchair for a ridiculously cute kitten, prosthetic leg blades for a dog, and wheels for an adorable two-legged dog named Tumbles.