first_imgTwo fully working feet on a duck are important for both walking around and being able to swim properly. So when Buttercup was born with a backwards left foot, his prospects weren’t great. Not only did his disfigured foot make walking difficult and painful, it also meant cuts and therefore infections were a concern.Buttercup ended up at the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary where they decided something had to be done to remove the threat of infection. Ultimately Buttercup had his left foot amputated, but that’s not the end of the story.Sanctuary owner Mike Garey is also a software engineer, so he was keen to find out if there was a way to give Buttercup a replacement foot using available technology. Sure enough, 3D printing came to the rescue. NovaCopy, a manufacturer of 3D printing systems, agreed to help and used Buttercup’s sister Minnie as a model for a new left foot design.The problem is, current 3D printing materials aren’t very flexible, so an alternative had to be found. Instead of 3D printing a new foot, NovaCopy instead printed a mould of the foot. That mould was then filled with silicone to create a flexible version of the final foot, thus offering Buttercup the movement he required to function normally. The foot will be attached using a silicone sock and a fastener.Buttercup has yet to get his final foot, but he has seen prototypes and the finished version should reach the sanctuary at some point in the next couple of weeks. I’m hoping we then get some video footage (sorry) of Buttercup proudly walking around like a normal duck rather than limping along on his stump.last_img read more