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Adorable tortoise receives a 3D-printed shell after being burnt in a fire

This is the best.

FIONA MACDONALD
24 MAY 2016
 

A ridiculously cute tortoise named Fred has been given the world's first 3D-printed prosthetic shell, after most of her own shell was burnt in a forest fire in Brazil.

After surviving the blaze, Fred also lived through two bouts of pneumonia and 45 days without food, before she was found by volunteer group, the 'Animal Avengers', who gave her the not-so-charming name.

 

"When we saw the animal in that state, we said 'Wow! It looks like Freddy Krueger'," veterinarian Rodrigo Rabello, told the Brazilian outlet, Fantastico. Nice guys, nice.

Luckily, the Animal Avengers had a 3D designer among their group of volunteers, so the team decided to patch Freddy up by giving her the world's first 3D-printed shell.

And that was a lot harder than it sounds, seeing as Fred had lost 85 percent of her shell. So the team had to virtually reconstruct what her shell should have looked like by comparing photos of Fred and healthy tortoises.

"It took about 40 photos [to build a model and reconstruct the shell]. We took a healthy animal, took the same 40 photos, reconstructed that animal in 3D and put it into the computer," said graphic designer Cicero Moraes.

The design was then printed out using a desktop printer in four individual, jigsaw-like puzzle pieces that fit together around Fred to create a complete shell.

The structure was made from corn-based plastic, which costs only $136 a kilogram. But each piece took 50 hours of printing, which goes to show just how solid this thing is.

 

Once everything was printed it out, it was simply a case of fitting it on Fred and then painting it to look like the real thing, which you can see step-by-step below:

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When it came to choosing the paint, the team tested several formulations to make sure it wouldn't wear away her new shell or cause any damage. They then asked Brazilian artist Yuri Caldera to create something that would look natural.

Fred is now living with Rabello and is on the mend. "This is a mark in veterinary medicine," he told Fantastico. "From now on we will have a new age. Specially when it comes to wild animals."

The animal avengers have also used technology to help other animals in the past, including creating artificial beaks for three injured toucans, a parrot, and a goose.

"It's a total satisfaction, we'll always strain to save a life, no matter whose," added Rabello.

You can see more of the process in the video below (just ignore the part where they call Fred a dude).

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