Slow and steady wins the race and after living with a medical issue for quite some time, Cleopatra the tortoise has a new 3D-printed shell!

Cleopatra, a leopard tortoise, suffers from a condition that’s known as either “pyramiding” or “peaking”; however, both terms carry the same meaning in that they mean that her shell has thick, pyramid-like growths that stem from poor nutrition.

Furthermore, her shell also has holes and broken parts that can, in time, be injured or infected.

But, thanks to Roger Henry, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a student at Colorado Technical University, Cleopatra can resume her normal tortoise life, because this inventor designed a 3D-printed shell for her!

Now, this 3D-printed shell isn’t like the shells that we see in cartoons like Super Mario or even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In fact, these shells are actually connected directly to their skeletons and can be injured just like any other body part.

Would you believe us if we told you that one 3D-printed tortoise shell took hundreds of hours to design? Well, actually 600 hours to be exact. During this time, Henry toiled endlessly with software to make sure that the tortoise’s prosthetic would fit her perfectly.

First, Henry used data from the Denver 3D Printing Store’s scans of her shell.

Then, once the shell was scanned, he used biodegradable, corn-based plastic to print the final 3D-printed shell.

Finally, the light-weight, 3D-printed shell that’s red in color was secured to Cleopatra’s shell with a Velcro strap and is now enabling her to move around more freely.

Cleo the tortoise is expected to live until she’s 80 and grow two to three times her current size, which means that she’ll require at two or three more prosthetic changes over the next few years.

So, it’s safe to say that Henry will be busy in the future using and refining his craft of making 3D-printed shells!

All in all, this innovative use of 3D printing has us saying Cowabunga Dude!

Copyright Inventionland, 2015