For one lucky duck in Oshkosh, Wis., the technology has already been a lifesaver. The bird was taken in and named Phillip by a woman named Vicki Rabe-Harrison, who had noticed his webbed feet were curled, dried and frozen after a cold winter. Rabe-Harrison told WBAY that she tried to contact a local middle school technology teacher, Jason Jischke, in hopes that his 3-D printer could fashion some new flippers for the duck.
When she hadn’t received a response, Rabe-Harrison told the station, she was “literally an hour away from putting [Phillip] down.” Then Jischke called.
Six weeks later, after some trial and error, Phillip was fitted with 3-D-printed, bright orange bootie-feet. As shown in the video above, he took to them right away and waddled about for the television cameras.
Phillip is not the first duck — or animal — with a heartwarming tale of reclaimed mobility thanks to 3-D-printed prosthetics. More than three years ago, Buttercup, a duck born with a backward foot, began walking well thanks to a 3-D-printed replacement. He has since gotten a version used for swimming, and even a Christmas-themed bootie.
Last year, a Turkish sea turtle whose beak had been mangled by a boat propeller, donned a 3-D-printed, medical-grade titanium chomper and was immediately transformed into a swimming superhero — or, maybe, a cute supervillain.
In 2014, a fluffy mutt named Derby, whose front legs were deformed, got 3-D prosthetics that allowed him to walk for the first time — and run.
“He runs with [my wife] and I every day, at least two to three miles,” Dom Portanova, Derby’s adoptive owner, said in a statement at the time. “When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs, it was just amazing.”