Last summer we covered the story of a little red-footed tortoise from Brazil, who was horrifically destroyed in a forest fire. The rescuers who found her named her after Freddy Krueger from the horror franchise “A Nightmare on Elm Street”; as her burned shell resembled the characters burned face. The rescuers wouldn’t realize that she was a female until much later, and by then the name had already stuck. She was eventually taken in by veterinarian Rodrigo Rabello, who was faced with the difficult options of how to deal with a tortoise that was so badly injured that hope of recovery seemed small.
Luckily, a solution presented itself in 3D printing, and through a plethora of veterinarians, artists, surgeons, and engineers, Freddie was saved. She was given a brand new 3D printed shell, she began to eat more regularly and her other burn wounds were healed. So after two bouts of pneumonia, and going without food for a whopping 45 days, Freddie was making a rebound, and making headlines as the first tortoise to receive a totally new 3D printed shell instead of just a shell cover. But there was still something missing.
Freddie’s shell didn’t look much like a shell; the material it was created from was plain white, which made Freddie stick out like a sore thumb, or at least like an albino tortoise. This made her an easy target for her natural predators, and it needed to be addressed. Enter artist Yuri Caldera, who began the arduous task of hand painting Freddie’s shell. He used the same reference photos that had been used to design Freddie’s shell in 3D, to paint a texture that would seem nearly identical to a tortoise shell of her species. These patterns and colors would mimic the natural environment in which Freddie lives, making her life a little safer. In this way, 3D printing, and art have fused to help do a little good in the world.