Bionic Macaw Is First in the World with 3D Printed Titanium Beak

by Jon D. B.
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“Meet Gigi, the bionic parrot who has a 3D printed titanium beak!” It’s true: Gigi the blue-and-yellow macaw is the world’s first to have a bionic titanium beak!

Gigi’s story may not have began a happy one, but thanks to some incredible humans and advances in 3D printing technology, the rest of it will be!

Recently, Gigi – a member of the stunning blue-and-yellow macaw parrot species – became the first bird in history to have a bionic prosthetic beak. And it was all made possible by 3D printing.

“Obviously, a bird needs a beak to be able to eat, defend itself, and otherwise survive, so beak injuries can often mean a rather dismal future,” begins 3Dprint.com‘s Clare Scott of Gigi’s story.

Macaw gets a 3D-printed titanium beak

Gigi was found to have severe a beak deformity, likely as a result of poor husbandry or care where she was being kept.

The Sun

According to Scott, an expert on 3D printing, Gigi the macaw was rescued from captivity in Brazil. There, she was found to have a “seriously deformed beak that prevented her from eating on her own.”

“Her plight was brought to the attention of a group of veterinary experts from the Animal Care Center Ipiranga in São Paulo,” she adds. The center’s team are “no strangers to 3D printing,” and alongside veterinarians and surgeons were able to not only change – but save Gigi’s life.

How Becoming the World’s First Bionic Macaw Saved A Life

Scott says researchers would quickly realize that no benefit would come of a plastic beak for Gigi. As a macaw, she uses her beak for cracking and crushing the hard shells of some of the foods she needs to survive. Macaws, like most parrot species, also rely heavily on their large, super-hard beaks for climbing, self-defense, and even grinding other foods down to eat.

Ruling out plastic led to the Ipiranga team asking: “what about titanium?” As Scott notes, “Many human prosthetics are made from titanium, so why not try the material on a bird?”

Indeed, titanium is a “lightweight, strong, and rust-resistant” metal. All of which make it an ideal candidate for everything from human implants to animal prosthetics. And now this includes macaw beaks!

With this in mind, Gigi’s veterinary team created a 3D model of her beak. After sending the model to Renato Archer Technology and Information Center (CTI), Gigi’s new beak was born.

The surgery for Gigi’s beak was non-invasive, too. Four titanium screws fasten her bionic beak to her already existing, malformed beak. As a result, she was up and eating foods she’d never been able to mere days after surgery. She looks fabulous while doing so, too: each of her screws mirrors the colors of her gorgeous feathers.

Sadly, Gigi is unable to survive in the wild, as her life has been one of captivity. Her saviors, however, remain hopeful that she’ll live out a happy life as one lucky zoo‘s first bionic macaw.

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