Japanese Startup Using 3-D Printing to
Based on: 3-D-Printing Startup Seeks Niche in Low-Cost Prosthetic Legs
By Megumi Fujikawa (WSJ)
Posted Sep. 12 2016 5:41 a.m.
Fuminori Ando’s new 3-D-printed artificial leg allows him to wear a Japanese-style summer outfit complete with the traditional sandals. PHOTO: MIHO INADA/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The concept of 3-D printing is a revolutionary new technology that is still in its infancy, but promises to change the way we consume products. We used to have to go to stores to purchase items, but the internet changed that completely and made it necessary for most companies to include E-commerce in their method of distribution. 3D printing promises to raise the bar and allow consumers to produce products themselves and have them immediately at a fraction of the cost of the traditional channels. When we think of manufacturing consumer goods, many of us think about clothes, sporting goods, even cars, but few of us consider prosthetic limbs. A company called SHC Design Inc., a Japanese startup is bringing this much closer to reality with the 3-D printing of prosthetics at an affordable price (Fujikawa). According to Fujikawa, “Typically handmade from multiple materials, a prosthetic limb costs an average of $4,200 in Japan, according to health-ministry data. SHC Design Chief Operating Officer Yutaka Tokushima said he expects his company’s printer will be able to produce a prosthetic leg for about $100” (Fujikawa). This will obviously make a huge impact in the affordability of these prosthetics and change the way a lot of people see 3-D printing; instead of a gratuitous new technology for wealthy people to customize their own products, it will be viewed as a way for more people to receive utility and medical care.