Monday, September 12, 2016

Japanese Startup Using 3-D Printing to Create Limbs

                                                                                                                        Zachary Perret
                                                                                                                          MBA 5355

          Japanese Startup Using 3-D Printing to        
                                    Create Limbs

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.



  1. Zach, very interesting article and highlights the amazing potential of 3D printing--it is indeed the future. While one often hears about the many ways it can be utilized for personal consumption, one of the most important uses is exactly what this article discusses. With further advances in this technology, 3D printing machines could provide great social value especially for developing nations where farmers may be able to print parts for farm equipment or water pumps, and the solar panels that drive them. Envision mobile production factories quickly deployed in disaster zones, printing out anything from emergency equipment to medical equipment. With 3D printers creating everything from tissue and blood vessels to bone, synthetic skin, and organs, the future of medicine has been revolutionized. Ally Montillo

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  3. I agree that the social responsibility aspect is why making these prosthetic legs affordable is so important. As the author states, almost 350,000 people in the Philippines need prosthetic legs but 90% are unable to get one because of the cost and lack of specialists available. This leaves a large number of people unable to work and provide a living for their families. This advance in 3D printing can seriously help people in different societies gain the medical help they need and improve their quality of lives.