July 19, 2016

Cromwell co. helps Purps the Penguin with 3D printing

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Purps the penguin is stepping lively thanks to help from a Cromwell company that is helping her deal with a longstanding tendon injury.

A Mystic Aquarium penguin is stepping lively thanks to help from a Cromwell company that is helping her deal with a longstanding tendon injury.

The ACT Group, Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Middle School, with assistance from 3D Systems, designed and produced an orthopedic boot for Purps, an African Penguin and lifelong resident of the aquarium.

In 2011, Purps was left with a nonfunctional flexor tendon following an altercation with another penguin on exhibit. Since then, Purps has been wearing a traditional hand-casted boot to support her injury. While the traditional boot adequately immobilized, supported and protected her injury, it posed some concerns for the veterinarian staff at the aquarium. The moldable plastic material it was made of deteriorated quickly forcing the veterinarian staff to reproduce the boot frequently, a very time intensive process.

The collaboration between local organizations began when Sue Prince, library media specialist, started an innovation lab at Mystic Middle School with the goal of introducing students to 3D technology. She applied and won a grant from the Stonington Education Fund and used the funds to purchase a 3D printer for the lab.

Prince worked in conjunction with by Kelly Matis, a member of Stonington Education Fund's community board and Director of Education and Conservation at Mystic Aquarium. Matis, aware of the diverse applications of 3D technology, shared the need for a new orthopedic boot for Purps with Prince. Eager to help and put the 3D printer to use for a great cause, Prince contacted the ACT Group to inquire about assistance with computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D scanning.

Nick Gondek, ACT Group's Director of Additive Manufacturing, led his team in demonstrating state-of-the-art 3D technology to Prince and her students. These demonstrations gave the students of Mystic Middle School hands-on experience using 3D technology and allowed the ACT Group to provide technical expertise through the course of the project.

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