How A Tortoise Named Freddy Was Saved By a 3D Printer

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A tortoise in Brazil lost its beautiful, protective shell when fires ravaged Brazil. It was in real danger until a team of folks known as the Animal Avengers showed up.

There’s nothing like a feel-good animal story to make even the dreariest days a little better. Have you read about the pit bull who rescued his family from a fire? What about the onslaught of cutie-pie Corgis that happens once a year? Can’t get enough!

Tortoise Shell 3-D Printer
photo via Inside Addition

The Tortoise Named Freddy

Freddy Krueger, of Nightmare on Elm Street fame, found a namesake in the form of a tortoise in Brazil who lived through a ravaging fire that almost took her life. She lost more than 85% of her shell.

The shell of a tortoise is made from bone, 50 separate bones to be exact. Since the shell is connected to the skeleton, a tortoise is really done for if something happens to its shell. Poor Freddy was doomed. That is until the Animal Avengers showed up. After losing 85% of her shell, Freddy suffered from pneumonia, hunger, and was near-death.

Animal Avengers consists of four vets, a dental surgeon and a 3D designer in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They volunteer as a team to help animals using 3D printing. Over time, they’ve created some amazing things to help animals, up to and including everything from printing beak prosthetics for toucans, a parrot, and a goose.

The Animal Avengers Save Freddy

Dr. Roberto Fecchio, a vet who is a part of the incredible group, told the Daily Mail how it all came to be.

“We first came together as friends because of our common love of science and our love for animals. We soon realized we could do some extraordinary work using cutting-edge technology to push back the boundaries of life-saving care for mutilated animals by giving them customized prostheses.”

The group studied other tortoise shells, measuring and doing as much research as they could to be sure the shell they would create would do the job it needed to do.

The shell took more than 50 hours per piece to print using a corn-derived plastic that prints white. No self-respecting tortoise could march around with a plain white shell. That’s why a talented artist named Yuri Caldera agreed to paint the shell in a realistic way using natural colors.

Is It a Tortoise or Turtle?

Good question! It’s easy to get confused as to which is which. A tortoise lives on land. A turtle lives in the water at least part of the time. (I forget all the time.)

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