ROCK HILL, South Carolina, July 18, 2016 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that its end-to-end digital design and manufacturing solutions led to the enhanced mobility of a disabled African penguin at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. In a collaborative endeavor led by the aquarium’s veterinary staff, students at Mystic Middle School worked with technical experts from ACT Group , a Connecticut-based 3D Systems partner, to make a lightweight, custom-fit boot for Yellow/Purple (AKA “Purps”), a resident of Mystic Aquarium’s endangered African penguin colony. Using 3D Systems’ 3D scanning, design and printing solutions, the group improved upon previous efforts by providing Purps with a more efficient and effective boot.
Purps was left with a nonfunctional flexor tendon in her ankle following an altercation with another penguin. In an initial effort to immobilize, support and protect the site of injury, veterinarians at Mystic Aquarium fashioned a boot for Purps from moldable plastic material. While adequate, the animal care team at Mystic Aquarium knew there were more modern solutions available for the boot that would not only be more durable and less cumbersome for the small bird, but also would require less time than handcrafting a boot.
Interested in taking advantage of the design freedom and customization benefits of 3D printing for Purps’ rehabilitation, Mystic Aquarium contacted its long-standing partner Mystic Middle School, which had just acquired a 3D printer through ACT Group. A new partnership formed among these three entities, and through their joint efforts a superior boot was fabricated for Purps using 3D Systems’ Geomagic Capture® 3D Scanner , Geomagic® Sculpt™ software and multi-material ProJet® MJP 5500X 3D printer.
With support provided by ACT Group, the students of Mystic Middle School successfully executed the majority of the design to manufacturing workflow. Following a workshop facilitated by ACT Group, the students used 3D Systems’ Capture 3D Scanner to scan an existing cast of Purps’ foot, then imported the scan data into Geomagic Sculpt for modification and customization. The boot they created not only enhanced Purps’ mobility, but also provided the students with a meaningful, goal-oriented framework from which to develop a design within a digital workflow.
“The students truly amazed us in how their creative thinking, imagination and intuitiveness led this process,” said Nick Gondek, Director of Additive Manufacturing and Applications Engineer, ACT Group. “It was rewarding to provide them with a technology that could keep up with their ingenuity, and to watch them pick up the software so quickly. It further demonstrates the need to have students learning to digitally design and manufacture at a younger age.”
The final boot was printed on a 3D Systems ProJet MJP 5500X, a multi-material 3D printer that enables both flexible and rigid materials to be printed and blended simultaneously at the voxel level for custom strength and elasticity. 3D printing the new boot led to a final product that was better fitting, lighter weight and more durable, allowing Purps to walk and swim like the rest of her peers.
“Our goal is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research,” said Kelly Matis, Vice President of Education and Conservation, Mystic Aquarium. “In this project we achieved each of these desired outcomes while benefiting the health and well being of one of our endangered species.”
“This project not only helped a member of an endangered species, but it gave our students a hands-on understanding of the 3D printing process and how to carry an idea through from a concept to a design to a usable object,” said Sue Prince, Library Media Specialist, Mystic Middle School.
“This project demonstrates how our end-to-end 3D printing solutions provide a seamless workflow that can enable enhanced results from the classroom to the lab to the factory floor,” said Derek Johnson, Director, Product Management, Professional Printers, 3D Systems. “With the right tools and the right focus, no problem is too big or too small to solve.”
About Mystic Aquarium
A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Mystic Aquarium is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only belugas. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. The mission of Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean environment through conservation, education and research. Mystic Aquarium receives major support from The Coca-Cola Company, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Resorts World Sentosa, and United Technologies Corporation. Learn more at MysticAquarium.org.