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Baby Buttercup.
Photo Credit: Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary

Buttercup the duck was born with a backwards foot. This meant walking would be tedious and painful until his owner came up with a great idea for a ‘duckie prosthetic.’

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Buttercup was born in a high school biology lab in November of 2012. Unfortunately for Buttercup, his left foot was turned backwards making it very difficult, and painful, for him to get around. Regardless of attempts to slowly turn the foot around, it wasn’t getting to a point where it would be functional. Something needed to be done.

Eventually, Buttercup was transferred to new owner Mike Garey at Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tennessee. Garey decided to do something about Buttercups foot and began thinking up ideas.

“With his deformed foot, he would have been in pain and had constant cuts and foot infections walking on the side of it even at our sanctuary here; and foot infections on these guys is always a serious matter,” Garey said.

Buttercup’s foot was amputated in February 2013 and shortly after, Garey’s search began as he explored options for a replacement limb. While a peg leg was an option for Buttercup, Garey thought, ‘why not try and replace the entire foot?’

Garey came across 3D printing and quickly he started to realize a real solution might be at hand. He found NovaCopy who is a 3D printing company that agreed to donate their services to help Buttercup walk again. Using photos of Buttercup’s sisters left foot, Garey and NovaCopy were able to design a brand new foot.

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Foot replica used to create a prosthetic for Buttercup.
Photo Credit: Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary)

Generally 3D printing uses a plastic material when printing objects. In this case, due to the need for flexibility, they printed an identical plastic mould so they could cast a foot using silicone inside the mould. Utilizing a silicone sheathe, they will then able to attach the foot to Buttercup.

“This version will have a stretchy silicone sock instead of the finger trap, which will roll up on his leg, be inserted into the foot and then have a fastener in the bottom,” Garey said. “If you saw Dolphin Tail, this material is similar to the WintersGel that they used.” WintersGel is a prosthetic liner that grips the amputated limb.

Want to keep up with Buttercup’s story? In the next couple of weeks, the final foot should arrive for Buttercup. You can follow the rest of the story HERE.


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