The animal was hit by a boat in Turkey, Wired reports, and injured so badly it could no longer eat.
It was taken in by Pamukkale University’s Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre where it was fed, but looked unlikely to ever return to sea.
But thanks to a collaboration with BTech Innovation, a Turkish biotechnology company specialising in 3D medical prosthetics, it looks set to return to the wild.
The company used CT scans and computer software to create a model of the turtle’s beak, which was 3D-printed in medical-grade titanium. It was attached during surgery that took more than two hours.
It’s not the first time 3D-printing has come to the rescue of a testudine – the order of reptiles that includes turtles, tortoises and terrapins.
Earlier this year, a Colorado student saved the life of a tortoise by giving her a new 3D-printed shell after the original was damaged beyond repair by a bone disease.
Originally published by Cosmos as Bionic 3D-printed jaw gives sea turtle a new lease on life
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.