With its ultra-strong titanium jaw it looks like a creature from a science fiction novel, but this turtle is the latest animal to benefit from 3D printing technology.
The loggerhead turtle was facing a lifetime in captivity after being hit by a boat propeller which ripped its jaw from its skull in the Mediterranean Sea leaving it unable to feed.
It was taken to the sea turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation centre at Pamukkale University in Turkey where staff nursed it back to health by feeding it by hand.
But they soon realised that another solution was needed if the turtle was ever going to be able to fend for itself and contacted BTech Innovation to see if a new jaw could be built for the creature, which they named AKUT3.
The Turkish biotechnology company specialises in 3D medical prosthetics and devised an innovative solution to save the turtle from a lifetime in captivity: a 3D titanium jaw.
After two months of research and development, the company used CT scans and computer software to create a 3D model of the turtle’s beak. This enabled them to design a prosthetic replacement, which was then 3D-printed in medical-grade titanium.
The surgery, which is the first of its kind ever performed, took two and a half hours to carry out by surgeons and veterinarians.
Dr Anas M. Anderson, who helped to carry out the operation, said the creature’s body showed no signs of rejecting the implant, following a post-op examination and the prognosis looked promising.
If the prosthetic is not rejected by the turtle, the animal will be returned to the sea shortly.
According to the WWF, loggerheads are the most common turtle in the Mediterranean, nesting on beaches from Greece and Turkey to Israel and Libya. However, many of their nesting beaches are under threat from tourism development.
The animal is not the only reptile to have benefited from 3D printing recently.
In March, a tortoise in Denver was made a customised prosthetic plastic shell by a student at Colorado Technical University, after her original one had deteriorated due to a poor diet.

This article was taken from www.telegraph.co.uk