Engineering Success Stories: 3D Printing and Cleopatra the Tortoise

Engineers are challenged constantly with a variety of tasks, attempting to revolutionise the way humans and animals live.
These unique skills were required once again when engineers were presented with Cleopatra, a tortoise suffering from an agonising disease that causes the shell to wear away.


As leading spring manufacturers, at European Springs we are fascinated with the accomplishments of engineers, so here we’ll take a look at the story of Cleopatra the tortoise, and see how engineering changed her life.

Who is Cleopatra the Tortoise?

Cleopatra is a leopard tortoise who was rescued by the Critters Reptile Rescue in Colorado, USA. She suffers from a metabolic bone disease known as pyramiding or peaking.

This disease causes the individual scutes, otherwise known as patches or sections, of the shell to stand out. This is caused by a lack of Vitamin D in a tortoise’s systems, making it very uncomfortable.

This condition results in many problems for tortoises, particularly when playing or mating, where tortoises tend to climb on top of each other.

These practices had caused Cleopatra’s shell to become quite severely damaged and worn. As well as leaving her in some discomfort, this also made her far more susceptible to infections.

Where do Engineers Come In?

The recent accomplishments of engineers and technology specialists with regards to 3D printing have allowed an amazing solution to the problem Cleopatra and many other tortoises are facing.

Roger Henry, a student at Colorado Technical University, was inspired by Cleopatra to come up with a viable solution to peaking.

Henry spent hundreds of hours perfecting and creating a design for a fabricated shell that could be manufactured using a 3D printer.

This project required the use of many precise measurements to ensure that the shell would fit Cleopatra comfortably without moving or sliding off.

This meticulous work was proven to be a success, and now Cleopatra can comfortably be around other tortoises while wearing her 3D printed shell, which is held in place using a Velcro strap.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Cleopatra the tortoise and her 3D printed shell. Did you know that, at European Springs, we use similarly innovative technology to create our springs? For more information, visit our website or contact us today by calling 0208 663 1800.

European Springs

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