One Lucky Ducky
More than 800,000 people have viewed the 2013 YouTube video of Buttercup the Duck and his 3D foot, courtesy of his innovative handler Mike Garey. Just in time for spring 2014, Buttercup is ‘waddling up a storm’ on a vastly improved webbed prosthetic!
Mike Garey, who might be described as part animal caregiver and part IT/geek, wanted to improve on the first prosthetic foot by adding a hinge for flexibility that would more accurately mimic Buttercup’s natural (and sometimes unnatural) movements. The new foot incorporates several technological innovations and 3D printing was at the center of it all. Mike upgraded to Simplify3D Software this year, so we asked him to describe how he achieved the improvements – and he had plenty to tell us!
The first breakthrough was with the clear silicone sock. “Last year I used a clay molding process to build the sock, but this year, I used Simplify3D to print a mold. Now I pour the sock. It’s faster and not nearly as messy.” The sock rolls onto Buttercup’s leg to provide comfort and protection. Then the sock slides down into the orange foot and the two pieces are attached, requiring precision 3D parts.
“This foot has to be accurate because I print a 3mm ankle pivot pin which connects the upper leg portion to the base and it has to be precise. The only way I found to get quality parts that were dimensionally accurate was with Simplify3D.”
Another big improvement for Mike has been the time savings. “When I was printing the 2013 foot, I was waiting overnight to generate G-code – but with Simplify3D, I get the G-code in minutes. I also know exactly what I’m going to get because I use the Previewer extensively. For example, last year I spent 9 hours printing a foot and then discovered that the ankle mount was hollow and useless. Now that I’m using Simplify3D Software, I use the detailed Preview to find any open spaces and repair them. That feature has saved me a ton of time and material”.
Having talked with Mike, we now share his enthusiasm about webbed feet. And we agree with someone who posted on Buttercup’s Facebook page (how many other ducks have a FB page) when they said, “Buttercup is one lucky ducky!”