Technology

Injured sea turtle gets 3D printed jaw

Turtle fitted with 3D printed jaw Image copyright BTech Innovation
Image caption The turtle is still under observation to see if the prosthetic is rejected

A 3D-printed beak has been fitted to a sea turtle injured by a collision with a boat's propeller.

The beak, made of medical-grade titanium, replaces the loggerhead turtle's jaws, half of which were sheared off in the accident.

Detailed scans of the injured creature's head were used to generate the design of the prosthetic beak.

If the prosthetic is not rejected by the turtle, the animal will be returned to the sea shortly.

The 45kg (99lb) creature was taken to the sea turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation centre at Pamukkale University in Denizli, Turkey soon after being found badly injured at sea.

Initially staff at the centre nursed it back to health by feeding it by hand but realised another solution was needed if the turtle was ever going to be able to fend for itself.

The rehabilitation centre contacted Turkish company BTech Innovation, known for custom-making medical prosthetics and implants for humans, to see if it could help.

BTech used CT scans taken by vets to produce a design that fitted perfectly to the injury site and restored the turtle's ability to feed.

The turtle, named Akut-3, is currently convalescing at the recovery centre to ensure that it has adapted to its metal jaw.

Image copyright CTU
Image caption Cleopatra the tortoise has also been equipped with a 3D-printed part

The animal is not the only reptile to have benefitted from 3D printing recently.

In March, a tortoise in Denver was made a customised prosthetic plastic shell by a student at Colorado Technical University, after her original one had deteriorated due to a poor diet.

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