An injured penguin who lost its beak in an unfortunate accident is getting a 3D printed replacement, giving him a second chance.
The penguin, located in a Warsaw zoo in Poland, took a fall a month ago and broke its lower beak.
For all birds, the beak is a vital body part, necessary for eating and drinking. Without it, the penguin’s survival rate is slim.
Polish scientists set to work using an Omni3D printer to create a prosthetic beak for the penguin. The model was made using scans of a deceased penguin’s beak. The beak was scanned from twelve different angles to find the right shape and size.
While the process of making the beak has already begun, the surgery won’t actually take place until next week, which is when Barkey Jerkewitz, the man in charge of the beak project, says the real process will begin. “It would be very difficult to immobilize a live penguin,” he says.
The beak itself will be printed in nylon and silicone, and duplicate copies of the beak will be created in case something should happen to the original; if it falls off or becomes broken.
This is the second time that scientists have used 3D printing to create a beak-replacement for a bird. In 2012, a bald eagle received the world’s first-ever 3D printed beak. That operation was a success, with the eagle using her new beak to drink and clean herself the following day. Scientists are hoping the surgery is just as successful, and will give the penguin a second chance at life, helping to restore it to its former health.