When Vicki Rabe-Harrison took in a badly injured duck, her vet didn’t hold out much hope. The woman from Oshkosk, Wisconsin, had taken in an injured duck from a farmer forced to sell. The duck, who she would name Phillip, had all but lost both feet to frostbite, leaving them curled and useless. Her vet told her that the best he could do was amputate, and Phillip might be better off peacefully euthanized.

Rabe-Harrison decided she wanted a second opinion. Having heard about the amazing things being done in prosthetics by 3D printing, she reached out for help. And like many of us, she found that help in a teacher.

Jason Jischke is the technology teacher at OshKosh’s South Park Middle School. When he heard about Phillip’s plight, he called Rabe-Harrison back right from his classroom, less than an hour before Phillip’s appointment to be put down. He saw a chance to both do a good deed and show his students the real world potential of the tech they were learning about.

For six weeks, he and his classes went through trial and error for Phillip’s prosthetic legs. They brainstormed and experimented with designs and materials, and wound up finding a brand new material on the market, a printable medium called Ninja Flex. The company, told about their quest, donated the material to Jischke’s class.

After 36 hours of printing, they had two clunky-looking, rubbery paddle feet designed to be a perfect fit for Phillip’s withered stumps. He took to them right away, taking only minutes to be up and walking in front of a local television camera.

Phillip the duck and his new feet are heading places. Once he’s swimming adeptly, he’ll be off to a sanctuary to live with their resident flock of ducks. And thanks to Rabe-Harrison and Jischke, he’s all set to land on his feet.

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