Alligator prosthesis made with 3D scanning
Artec 3D scanners helped a wounded crocodile with a new tail and an opportunity in life
Mr. Stuubs the missing tail crocodile was at the Phoenix Herpetological Society.
Not having a tail is not something to laugh about. This meant that, besides not being able to swim in deep waters (he could easily drown), he also had a real food problem.
The other caimans around it were faster at catching their prey, because the crocodiles use their tails to launch and attack. This meant for Mr. Stubbs that unless some unfortunate creature collapsed in front of him, he probably wouldn’t have the fattest slice of rabbit cake that day.
His swimming problems were partly solved when he was taught how to row with his front legs. It’s not ideal, but at least he didn’t turn around and drown.
Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, wanted to do more for Mr. Stubbs. He had an idea.
They called Dr. Marc Jokofsky and his assistant Sarah Jarvis of the Center for Orthopedic Research and Education, who have experience in helping humans with orthopedic challenges. A team of specialists was formed who considered their options for creating a prosthetic tail.
3D model of the future tail for Mr. Stubbs
Dr. Georgi had previously attempted tail scans of a crocodile with a 3D laser scanner, but the scanning quality was too poor to capture enough detail; so he contacted Artec 3D to see if they wanted to form a new team for a new tail for Mr. Stubbs.
Once on the site used the Artec Eva to make a high-resolution 3D model of a “tail mold” of a crocodile of similar size and recently disappeared (Georgi and his team had used the same tail as the previous prosthesis model). The Artec Eva 3D scanner works by a light model downwards on the surface of the object, and when it bounces off the scanner, the Artec Studio software instantly analyzes the distorted light and recognizes the shape of the object, recording it in high resolution up to 16 frames/second.
The data obtained were processed in Artec Studio, modifying the 3D model, correcting some defects and adjusting the size and proportions perfectly match what little remained of Mr. Stubb’s tail. They export the file as an AWL and from there the tail was printed in 3D.
Artec Eva was perfect for this project because of its powerful resolution: to capture details up to 0.5 mm in size, but also can be used on large objects, such as the tail of a giant crocodile, or something even bigger.
Artec Eva was perfect for this project thanks to its powerful resolution.
After printing the custom model in 3D, the researchers created a silicone mold from which several custom-made prosthetic glues were made for Mr. Artec Eva.
Now, every time you’re tied up, he acts as if he’s always been there. He shows no signs of stress or discomfort during use, proving that it has to be natural for him.
Mr Stubbs has forgotten his old limitations and is behaving more and more like a normal crocodile. He is there to swim, dive and jump after meals, just like the rest of his friends in cold blood.
During the next 50-60 years of his life, while growing (adult caimans can measure up to 20 feet long), Mr. Stubbs should receive up to 40 new tails. Now that you have your 3D model, making changes and printing new queues will be very easy.