How 3D Printing Helped Mr. Stubbs The Alligator.
It goes without saying that technology certainly has its pros and cons. After all, thanks to technology, we can talk to people on the other side of the world, but it also disconnects us from everything that's going on right in front of us. While there are definitely some negative aspects when it comes to advancements in technology, this story is one that shows us how far we've come in the world, and how much good we can do for people as well as animals.
Say hello to this ruggedly handsome alligator, who just so happens to be named: Mr. Stubbs.
This alligator's name may be cute, but the reasoning behind it is not. You see, when Mr. Stubbs was a much younger alligator, he sustained an injury to his tail while being illegally transported by deadly poachers. Because of the injury, Mr. Stubbs lost his tail, hence the reason for his name. Unfortunately, without a tail, Mr. Stubbs was looking at being stranded on land because he couldn’t keep upright in the water. Fortunately, Mr. Stubbs was transported to Phoenix Herpetological Society in 2013, where he was given a new chance to live a normal alligator life.
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Mr. Stubbs was nine when he was brought to the facility, in which he became the first alligator to be fitted for a prosthetic tail!
At first, the prosthetic was made out of silicone and latex, but because it was molded from a different alligator’s tail, it was a bit clunky for Mr. Stubbs. As living things do, Mr. Stubbs continued to grow, causing prosthetic after prosthetic to become too small. The volunteers working with Mr. Stubbs needed to figure out a long-term solution as soon as possible.
Thanks to advances in technology, a pair of researchers were able to use a 3D printer to create a very special tail for the alligator.
According to National Geographic, an associate professor of anatomy at Midwestern University in Arizona, Justin Georgi, had a student that was in need of a project. So, together they decided to work with the 3D printing company STAX3D to make a new tail for Mr. Stubbs.
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Thanks to the crazy skills of an Artec 3D scanner, they were able to get an exact measure to create a tail for Mr. Stubbs that fit perfectly.
“They got the resolution where features even below the millimeter scale were visible and usable. Watching it happen there in real-time was incredible. With 3D technology, you can really custom fit or anticipate growth,” said Justin.
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Mr. Stubbs like his new tail so much, that he even gave a volunteer a nice little tail-slap with it!
"My initial reaction was, 'That's wonderful!' Of course, I had to stop and ask if the volunteer was okay, too. But hearing that he was using that tail in a natural fashion was just a terrific and exciting landmark." This new tail isn’t just beneficial for Mr. Stubbs, it also opens up a whole new world for humans that need prosthetics, as well. Congrats on your new tail, Mr. Stubbs, you look dashing!