3D Systems Partners with Mystic Aquarium, ACT Group and Middle School Students to Help Disabled Penguin Walk Again

ROCK HILL, S.C., July 18, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that its end-to-end digital design and manufacturing solutions led to the enhanced mobility of a disabled African penguin at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. In a collaborative endeavor led by the aquarium’s veterinary staff, students at Mystic Middle School worked with technical experts from ACT Group, a Connecticut-based 3D Systems partner, to make a lightweight, custom-fit boot for Yellow/Purple (AKA “Purps”), a resident of Mystic Aquarium’s endangered African penguin colony. Using 3D Systems’ 3D scanning, design and printing solutions, the group improved upon previous efforts by providing Purps with a more efficient and effective boot.

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Purps the penguin's new 3D printed orthotic boot delivers both support and flexibility to help her walk more easily


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The lightweight and flexible orthotic boot was printed in the ProJet® MJP 5500X multi-material 3D printer as a single piece


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The veterinary team from Mystic Aquarium, the student team from Mystic Middle School and staff from ACT Group who collaboratively created Purps’ new orthotic boot using 3D Systems’ end-to-end manufacturing solutions


Photos accompanying this announcement are available at

http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/4c26b9da-9a21-498b-95db-cdda5104adaa

http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/050012ab-ea22-4194-97be-19b8cd1d74b6

http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/d0922e15-d144-4b73-9177-57db78a45ac4

Watch a video to see how 3D Systems’ technology helped Purps the penguin regain mobility.

Purps was left with a nonfunctional flexor tendon in her ankle following an altercation with another penguin. In an initial effort to immobilize, support and protect the site of injury, veterinarians at Mystic Aquarium fashioned a boot for Purps from moldable plastic material. While adequate, the animal care team at Mystic Aquarium knew there were more modern solutions available for the boot that would not only be more durable and less cumbersome for the small bird, but also would require less time than handcrafting a boot.

Interested in taking advantage of the design freedom and customization benefits of 3D printing for Purps’ rehabilitation, Mystic Aquarium contacted its long-standing partner Mystic Middle School, which had just acquired a 3D printer through ACT Group. A new partnership formed among these three entities, and through their joint efforts a superior boot was fabricated for Purps using 3D Systems’ Geomagic Capture® 3D Scanner, Geomagic® Sculpt™ software and multi-material ProJet® MJP 5500X 3D printer.

With support provided by ACT Group, the students of Mystic Middle School successfully executed the majority of the design to manufacturing workflow. Following a workshop facilitated by ACT Group, the students used 3D Systems’ Capture 3D Scanner to scan an existing cast of Purps’ foot, then imported the scan data into Geomagic Sculpt for modification and customization. The boot they created not only enhanced Purps’ mobility, but also provided the students with a meaningful, goal-oriented framework from which to develop a design within a digital workflow.

“The students truly amazed us in how their creative thinking, imagination and intuitiveness led this process,” said Nick Gondek, Director of Additive Manufacturing and Applications Engineer, ACT Group. “It was rewarding to provide them with a technology that could keep up with their ingenuity, and to watch them pick up the software so quickly. It further demonstrates the need to have students learning to digitally design and manufacture at a younger age.”

The final boot was printed on a 3D Systems ProJet MJP 5500X, a multi-material 3D printer that enables both flexible and rigid materials to be printed and blended simultaneously at the voxel level for custom strength and elasticity. 3D printing the new boot led to a final product that was better fitting, lighter weight and more durable, allowing Purps to walk and swim like the rest of her peers.

“Our goal is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research,” said Kelly Matis, Vice President of Education and Conservation, Mystic Aquarium. “In this project we achieved each of these desired outcomes while benefiting the health and well being of one of our endangered species.”

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