Mlab cusing R from Concept Laser 3D Prints New Beak For Wild Bird In Brazil

  • Veterinary medicine is the latest industry to adopt 3D metal printing

Lichtenfels (Germany), May 30, 2016: 3D metal printing enables incredible applications because it truly allows freedom of design. For the first time ever, a prosthetic titanium beak has been manufactured using 3D metal printing and implanted on Gigi, a blue macaw (a genus of the parrot family), in Brazil. This unusual prosthetic saved Gigi’s very life, as macaws are unable to eat solid foods without a beak.

The illegal trade of wild birds is a sad story of greed, and it doesn’t just happen in Brazil. The victims are magnificent creatures whose very beauty can end up being their downfall. During Gigi’s captivity at the hands of illegal bird traders, poor housing conditions caused severe malformation of the bird’s beak. Ultimately, Gigi was freed by the Brazilian police, but the magnificent bright blue and yellow feathered macaw could no longer be fed without a beak. A team of veterinarians, together with 3D printing experts from the Renato Archer Technology and Information Center (CTI) in Campinas, Brazil, developed an implant solution for the bird. The successful operation took place on February 18, 2016 at the Animal Care Center in Ipiranga near Sao Paulo.

Gigi the macaw before and after the operation (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

Gigi the macaw before and after the operation (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

An interdisciplinary team effort
The artificial beak was created thanks to the cooperation of three specialists. The team, dubbed the “Avengers,” was comprised of veterinarian Roberto Fecchio, 3D designer and facial-reconstruction specialist Cicero Moraes and veterinary dentist Paul Miamoto. The “Avengers” are pioneers in the use of 3D printing technology for saving the life of wild animals, having previously made a new shell for Freddy the turtle and a beak for an injured toucan. These prosthetics were made of plastic.

A part that saves lives: A 3D-printed titanium beak (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

A part that saves lives: A 3D-printed titanium beak (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

In the case of Gigi, Plastic was not suitable. Macaws use their beaks to open seeds and break other hard shells, meaning that their beaks need to be extremely long-lasting and strong. This being the case, the team decided on titanium, known to be extremely durable. Titanium presented itself as the perfect solution, as it is biocompatible, lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Many prosthetics for people are produced using titanium today, so why not try using the material to help a wild bird?

First LaserCUSING, then a successful operation
Paul Miamoto began by taking a series of photographs of the malformed beak. From these, Cicero Moraes created a digital 3D model for the perfectly fitting prosthetic. The beak was then laser melted at the Renato Archer Technology and Information Center (CTI). Gigi’s artificial beak was created using a Mlab csuing R from Concept Laser, with which especially delicate parts with high surface quality can be manufactured. The smallest system model from Lichtenfels proved to be the right choice for saving Gigi’s life.

Gigi the macaw undergoing the operation at the Animal Care Center in Sao Paolo (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

Gigi the macaw undergoing the operation at the Animal Care Center in Sao Paulo (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

The operation then took place at the Animal Care Center in Sao Paulo. Veterinarians Roberto Fecchio, Sergio Camargo, Rodrigo Rabello and Methus Rabello participated. The 3D-printed prosthetic was secured in place with bone cement and orthopedic screws. Just 48 hours after the operation, Gigi was able to try out the beak. She made a fantastic recovery at the Center for Research and Screening of Wild Animals (CEPTAS) at Unimonte University. Gigi is currently awaiting placement at a zoo, where visitors can marvel at the bird’s one-of-a-kind beak secured in place with colorful rhinestone-styled screws. The other birds are going to be seriously jealous.

Gigi's new beak after the operation (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

Gigi’s new beak after the operation (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

Bottom line
All’s well that ends well. Examples like Gigi show that 3D-printed medical technology isn’t just capable of providing greater quality of life to people. The unlimited geometric freedom of the process enables the manufacture of perfectly fitting implants ideally suitable for each respective application. Ultimately, it was able to help a magnificent wild bird overcome injuries and deformities, so there is good news in our often uncertain and sometimes unsettling world.

Concept Laser Trade Show Appearances

  • Rapid Tech., Erfurt (Germany) June 14 – 16, 2016
  • DMS, Tokyo (Japan) June 22 – 24, 2016
  • DMC, Shanghai (China) June 28 – 30, 2016

Concept Laser GmbH
An der Zeil 8
D-96215 Lichtenfels
Phone: +49 (0) 9571 / 1679-0

LaserCUSING® Background Information

Key word: LaserCUSING®
The patented LaserCUSING® process from Concept Laser is used to create high-precision mechanically and thermally resilient metallic components. The term “LaserCUSING®,” coined from the C in Concept Laser and the word FUSING, describes the technology: The fusing process generates components layer by layer using 3D CAD data.

Build process of the beak on a Mlab cusing R from Concept Laser (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

Build process of the beak on a Mlab cusing R from Concept Laser (Photo courtesy of Cicero Moraes)

In this process, fine metal powder is melted locally by a high-energy fiber laser. The material solidifies after cooling. The contour of the component is created by redirecting the laser beam using a mirror redirection unit (scanner). The part is built up layer by layer (with a layer thickness of 15 – 500 μm) by lowering the bottom of the build chamber, applying more powder and then melting again.

What makes systems from Concept Laser unique is stochastic control of the slice segments (also referred to as “islands”) which are processed successively. This patented process ensures a significant reduction in stress when manufacturing very large components.

Concept Laser at a Glance
Concept Laser GmbH in Lichtenfels, Germany is today, unlike almost any other company, one of the real pioneers and key drivers of powder-bed-based laser melting with metals. The technology driver here is the patented LaserCUSING® process, also referred to as 3D metal printing, which over the course of 15 years has evolved the additive manufacturing of 3D components from a rapid technology to the stage of industrial series production.

When Frank Herzog founded Concept Laser GmbH in Lichtenfels back in 2000, a metal laser melting machine was an entirely unknown variable in the market. How is a 3D shape created from metal powder using a laser? What does 3D printing or a digital process chain mean for manufacturing of the future?

The answer was industrial machine technology. Concept Laser unveiled the first machine of this type at Euromold in Frankfurt in 2001. With currently more than 50 patents granted and over 100 patent applications, Frank Herzog and his workforce of more than 170 employees continue to champion and develop the LaserCUSING® process. The company caters to the global market for laser melting machines across all different sectors from sites in Germany, the US and China and through a network of more than 35 distribution and service partners.

The implant was created using a Mlab cusing R from Concept Laser   (Photo courtesy of Concept Laser GmbH)

The implant was created using a Mlab cusing R from Concept Laser (Photo courtesy of Concept Laser GmbH)

Concept Laser’s high quality standards and expertise in processes, applications and materials deliver reliable and cost-effective solutions which prove their effectiveness in everyday production and are primarily aimed at reducing part costs. In addition to the commercial aspects, the process offers a large number of other benefits compared to conventional methods of production. The components are lighter, the designer has new areas of freedom, topology and geometry are optimized, additional functions can be integrated and less raw material is required. This means that components which were previously manufactured using machining processes are now being redesigned to fully exploit the new potential offered by additive manufacturing.

Concept Laser offers a range of small machines (50 x 50 x 80 mm3) right through to the machine with the world’s largest build envelope (800 x 400 x 500 mm3). Machines from Concept Laser equipped with multilaser technology are among the fastest, safest and highest-quality laser melting machines in the world. More than 550 installed machines and prestigious references and projects of this Franconian “hidden champion” around the globe send out a clear message and stand for outstanding technology for the future sealed with the endorsement “Made in Germany.”

For example, today’s aerospace industry, automotive industry, medical technology, dental technology, toolmaking and other sectors focus strategically on 3D metal printing as the economical and high-quality production strategy of the future which embraces the notion of “Industry 4.0.”

Prizes & Awards

  • 2001 Presented with the EuroMold Silver AWARD for the M3 linear LaserCUSING® machine
  • 2008 Presented with the Bavarian Innovation Prize for the M2 cusing LaserCUSING® machine
  • 2012 Presented with the EuroMold Bronze AWARD for the X line 1000R LaserCUSING® machine
  • 2014 BAVARIA’S BEST 50 prize winner
  • 2014 Finalist in the “Large Companies” category for the German Industry Innovation Prize in the form of Frank Herzog, Managing Director of Concept Laser GmbH – Project: “The first 3D-printed titanium component on board the A350 XWB”
  • 2015 The “European CEO of the Year Additive Manufacturing” award was presented to Frank Herzog, Managing Director of Concept Laser GmbH
  • 2015 Nominated for the German Future Prize, which is awarded by the German President for technology and innovation. – Project: “3D printing in commercial aircraft engineering – a manufacturing revolution is taking off” in the form of Frank Herzog, Managing Director of Concept Laser GmbH
  • 2015 FOCUS Growth Champion
  • 2016 Winner of the International Additive Manufacturing Award with the QM Meltpool 3D quality monitoring tool, which was developed in-house

Source: Concept Laser GmbH

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