Here Are the 8 Most Heartwarming Applications of 3D Printing

Featuring a number of adorable ducks and small children.

  • There’s no doubt 3D printing’s been used to make some pretty trivial things, including (but certainly not limited to) poop replicas and disposable underwear

    But as the innovative new technique grows in popularity, people have begun to realize it has some pretty remarkable capabilities, beyond just recreating Lord of the Rings paraphernalia. Doctors are using it to practice their skills in the operating room, and to make implants for reconstructive surgery. Kids are using it to build prosthetic hands for their friends. Architects are using it to construct entire buildings and combat the world’s housing problems.

    You might even say 3D printing is making us all better people.

    Here are some of the most heartwarming applications of 3D printing. Get ready to feel stuff.

  • Dudley and his sibling, both ducks, were viciously attacked by a group of chickens last year. Dudley, the only survivor, was left with but one leg, making it difficult for him to continue waddling around. Some Canadian engineers designed him a 3D-printed leg, and now Dudley can keep walking and playing around the yard with his adorable friend, who's a pig. (Screengrab: YouTube)

  • Don't put away that tissue, because Dudley isn't alone. Mashable reported that another duck, Buttercup, was also the recipient of a 3D-printed leg. Buttercup was born with a backward left foot, and couldn't walk properly. His caretakers at a Tennessee waterfowl sanctuary worked with 3D-printing company NovaCopy to create a new silicone leg for him, using a model of his sister's left foot. Now Buttercup can waddle around to his little heart's content. (Facebook)

  • This cute lil' one-year-old baby, Roland Lian Cung Bawi, had a ton of dangerous heart defects that required complicated surgery. As the Courier Journal reported, a Kentucky heart surgeon and a team of engineers 3D-printed a model of the baby's heart, which they used to explore possible methods of conducting the surgery. Thanks to all that practice, the hospital completed a successful surgery on baby Roland on Feb. 10. (Screengrab: The Courier Journal)

  • In 2012, Stephen Power was in a motorcycle accident that left him with terrible injuries, including a fractured skull, and broken cheekbones, top jaw and nose. As the BBC reports, doctors were able to reconstruct the 29-year-old Wales resident's face using a series of 3D-printed implants modeled after Mr. Power's own skull. Mr. Power told the BBC the operation was "life-changing." (Screengrab: the BBC)

  • Amsterdam architecture firm DUS Architects is using a 3D-printer to construct a house on the city's Buiksloter canal, Sourceable reports. Besides sparking innovation and public interest in the fields of architecture and construction, the company also hopes the project will "[find] a way to meet the housing needs of the earth’s 7 billion inhabitants, providing a solution for the the sub-standard shelter for the world’s poor that has developed in megacities across the globe," Sourceable said. (Screengrab: Vimeo)

  • This is some beautiful 3D-printing teamwork: Ivan Owen, from Washington State, and Richard Van As, of South Africa, collaborated over the Internet to create a 3D-printed hand for an adorable five-year-old boy missing fingers on his right hand. Mr. Owen and Mr. Van As devised the amazing Robohand for little Liam Dippenaar, and now they're reportedly fitting one for another child in South Africa with the same condition as Liam. (Screengrab: YouTube)

  • Inspired by the Robohand Ivan Owen and Richard Van As created for Liam Dippenaar, awesome dad Paul McCarthy 3D-printed a cool-looking prosthetic hand for his twelve-year-old son, Liam, CBS Evening News reports. Dads are the best. (Screengrab: YouTube)

  • Teens: when they're not listening to rap music and playing all those video games, they're capable of doing some really nice stuff. According to the Wichita Eagle, 16-year-old Mason Wilde used a 3D-printer at a local library to create prosthetic hand for a family friend's nine-year-old son, who was born without fingers on one of his hands. Now the boy, Matthew, reportedly can open and close his hand, hold pencils, and thinks Mason is "awesome." (Screengrab: YouTube)