In 2005 Beauty the bald eagle suffered at the hands of poachers, losing her beak and leaving her unable to feed or even groom herself. Thankfully, technology and a few good people came to her rescue, nursing her back to health and hooking her up with a badass, 3D-printed beak.
When animal rescue workers found Beauty they took her to the wonderful, caring volunteers of Birds of Prey Northwest who have spent the years since ensuring that she recovered. During that time it became clear that Beauty's beak would never be full restored and she would not be able to survive without the constant help of humans. To end her suffering, euthanasia was unfortunately the next step.
Thankfully, raptor specialist Jane Fink Cantwell refused to let that happen. Instead, she teamed up with mechanical engineer Nate Calvin of Kinetic Engineering Group and a group of other engineers, scientists and a dentist to help Beauty out. The team worked together to design a nylon polymer beak that would replace Beauty's upper mandible.
The faux beak was developed using 3D modeling software and came to life with a 3D printer. After the strenuous task of attaching the new beak was completed, Beauty could once again eat, drink and groom just as she did before. It's a heart-warming story and proof that we can use new gadgets and technology for more than just entertaining ourselves.
If you want to learn more about the project and Beauty the bald eagle, please head over to Grist.org