There is no doubt that 3D printing is a very cool technology. But as neat as it is to print up a bracelet or even busts of Stephen Colbert’s head, who could’ve foreseen this application of the technology?

A bald eagle with a busted kisser got a new lease on life when it became the recipient of a 3D-printed beak. This is the work of a team of engineers and a dentist, who helped a bird sanctuary called Birds of Prey Northwest output the nylon polymer appliance from its 3D printer device and attach it to “Beauty,” a disabled bird that was shot in the face in 2005. Since birds use their beaks to eat and clean themselves, this is quite a handicap, but luckily, what little was left of her beak was just enough to serve as a base for the prosthetic.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite stable enough for full use out in the wild, so for now, Beauty needs to stay put in the nature preserve. Even so, thanks to this artificial attachment, she has regained some ability to eat, drink and groom herself. And the new beak looks quite amazing on her, don’t ya think?

[Via Geekosystem, Grist]

Beauty and the Beak from Keith Bubach on Vimeo.