Max the Macaw got into a rather nasty fight with another Macaw and lost his beak in the process so now he is getting a new, 3D printed one.


Max is a rescued Blue and Gold Macaw being cared for by the Hyacinth Haven Bird Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Hyacinth Haven offers a safe haven to parrots and other birds who, for various reasons needed a new home. The haven is self-funded and passionate about saving birds.

While at the haven, Max got into a fight with another macaw and lost most of his upper beak. Losing his beak has created a massive problem for his mobility and ability to eat. Over half his beak was lost during the fight. An acrylic mock-up was made to show the missing beak.

Trevor Glover has become determined to help Max and started brainstorming how to best go about doing so. With 3D printing the possibilities are endless. The tech is being used in a number of medical fields for prosthetics so why not the same for a bird?

“The future is not all doom and gloom thank goodness as notwithstanding the likely large expense involved I am going ahead with the plans to have him fitted with a 3D printed Titanium beak.”

“I have disregarded other materials as unlikely to survive the rough handling meted out to it by a macaw. This is not a simple task and I am working with a company that does animal prosthetics who will be doing the cad drawings, as well as the Bloemfontein University of Technology who will do the actual 3D Titanium printed beak.”

If you look at the picture you can see on the acrylic mockup, the line showing what he has left of his beak and what he lost.

Without a top beak to maintain it, the bottom beak has continued growing straight out which started preventing Max from feeding himself. They began the process of fitting the prosthetic.

First, a correction needs to be made on his lower beak so that it will line up with the titanium prosthetic. Professor Gerhard Steenkamp and Dr Dorianne Elliot operated to get the lower beak back to its original shape. Max was then left to recover for a few days before going for a CT scan.

“This was to determine the feasibility of successfully fitting a 3D printed Titanium beak. After the scan Professor Steenkamp, Dr Dorianne and Philip van der Walt of Bunnycorp animal prosthetics were able to say with certainty that we should go ahead with the planned beak.”

Now the process starts that will be using the scan results and 3D models to finalise everything, and trial, all in computer before printing the prosthetic and fitting it to Max. The actual printing of the beak would be done by Johan Els of the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein.

Trevor confirms there is currently no time frame but he feels things are off to a great start. Max will have a new lease on life when he gets his new beak. We will keep you posted when he gets it.

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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