China Set for 3D Printed Hip Joint Mass Production, and The West May Suffer For It

China’s State Food and Drug Administration recently approved use of 3D printed artificial hip joints, opening up the possibility of mass production. And some other effects, too. 

A report from the People’s Daily suggests that China may soon begin mass-manufacturing these 3D printed implants as a result of the approval. 

While this will no doubt result in increased availability of hip  replacements for Chinese citizens, there will be other effects, too. In the West. 

According to Professor Liu Zhong Jun, director of Orthopaedics with Peking University Third Hospital: 

It will break the monopoly of foreign products in high-end market and significantly reduce the price after being put into mass production. It is also a landmark to promote the development of the whole 3D printing industry.

If your business involved producing high-value 3D printed implants for destinations in China, you might want to find another product, as it seems clear the intent is to make the implants locally at low cost instead of using expensive imports. 

But there’s more: by creating a large factory (or factories) of 3D printers to produce these hip implants, it would be trivial to repurpose those same machines to produce any other kind of implant, so long as there is an approved design. Remember, 3D printers can print any design; there is little requirement to retool them for different objects. 

This could be a big hit to some western-based 3D print services. 

Via People’s Daily (Hat tip to Symptom of Society)

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