Kids 3D-Printed a Boot So This Injured Penguin Could Walk Again

Middle schoolers helped Purps the Penguin get back on her feet.

Jul 19 2016, 8:40pm

Before you start feeling sad about this endangered penguin's injured leg, have faith that 3D printing heroically saved the day.

In this video from 3D systems, a company offering 3D printers and other 3D products, a group of local middle schoolers from Mystic Middle School in Mystic, Connecticut, team up with Mystic Aquarium and the ACT Group, a 3D systems partner, to construct a boot, modeled from a hand-molded cast of the penguin's foot.

Following a spat with another bird in 2011, Purps, as the endangered African penguin is known, had torn a flexor tendon in her left leg, making her nearly nonfunctional—she needed a boot to support her. The plastic boot she originally wore was cumbersome and heavy, still limiting her mobility. But using 3D scanning, design, and printing technology, the group collaborated to make Purps a lightweight boot that she could walk around in.

"This project not only helped a member of an endangered species, but it gave our students a hands-on understanding of the 3D printing process and how to carry an idea through from a concept to a design to a usable object," said Sue Prince, library media specialist at Mystic Middle School.

The adorable tiny boot looks like it's fit for an infant, and the video gets even cuter once you watch Perp more easily strut her stuff and go swimming. This video's all fuzzy and heartwarming, and maybe one of the few news bits you'll see these days that actually has a happy ending.