A family’s pet goose lost a portion of its bill after getting into a fight with a raccoon, making it difficult for the animal to eat.Bruce’s owner took him to an animal rescue where the director thought up a solution for Bruce’s injury: 3D printing a prosthetic bill.
3D printing can create medical devices that help humans and animals. Case in point, when a family pet named Bruce Bruce the Goose had a nasty tussle with a raccoon, he escaped the scrap with a badly damaged bill. After losing the top portion of the bill, Bruce suffered from a consistently dry tongue which made it difficult to eat.
The goose’s owner, Vicky Taylor, took Bruce to Sandy’s Haven animal rescue in Franklin County, Idaho, which quickly turned to 3D printing to get the job done.
“This guy wants to be here, he wants to live, ” Sandy Haven’s director Susan Curtis told WPTV. “We’ve got to figure out a way to help him.”
Curtis contacted Cache Makers, a nonprofit 4-H group that introduces kids to STEM and arts classes. The group soon began taking measurements to design a new prosthetic bill for Bruce.
Bruce is a Chinese goose, meaning he looks a bit different than the ever-abundant Canada goose—the most popular breed in North America. For starters, Chinese geese typically have a protrusion called a basal knob where their bill meets their head. Their bills—along with the basal knobs—are usually the same color, making it a little easier to print a near-perfect match. This allowed 4-H to use Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) filament, a plastic used in lots of toys (like Lego)—to 3D print his new bill. In addition to being durable, ABS also offers some heat and chemical resistance, making it an ideal prosthetic for Bruce.
The bill went through several iterations before a final design was ready to be applied to Bruce’s face. Once the design was finalized, it was printed within a matter of hours and applied using dental glue.
The bill was also outfitted with nares (nostrils) so that Bruce could breathe more easily and has finally allowed the goose to go back to eating normally. Today, Bruce Bruce is fully recovered and in “high spirits.”
Curtis says that Bruce “struts around,” happy to have his bill back.