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North Korea Takes on 3D Printing by Printing Bones for Surgery

 

Although people in the United States often take announcements coming out of North Korea with a grain of salt, one of the latest is quite interesting. According to a news report on North Korean media outlet NK News, the country’s medical engineers claim they can reassemble a human jaw via 3D printing.

Is It True?

The story was first reported here in the United States by KCTV, a media outlet in Kansas City, Missouri. The footage in the segment showed doctors working around a printer, claiming that it was printing a lower human jaw that could be used in dentistry, cosmetic surgery, and reconstructive surgery. Like many other modern countries, North Korea is indeed experimenting with 3D printing and trying to find new ways to use it to improve human health. However, whether or not their machine can successfully assemble a human jaw as proposed remains to be seen.

Previous Medical Marvels

It is certainly possible for North Korean medical engineers to produce body parts – including synthetic bones – using 3D printing. In the Netherlands, physicians were able to transplant a 3D printed skull back in 2014. What’s more, physicians in Sudan focused on children injured by that country’s civil war; they have successfully printed and utilized synthetic limbs for these children, changing their lives forever.

What About North Korea’s Declining Health System?

People who follow news out of North Korea might already know that there have been multiple reports that the country’s healthcare system is in a state of disarray. Many people living there claim that the equipment used in even the most sophisticated North Korean hospitals is antiquated and in disrepair, and others note that the quality of healthcare provided in the country is sub-par when compared to other parts of the world.

Because of this information, there are many who believe that this is nothing more than propaganda released by the North Korean government in an effort to improve the country’s reputation and promote a sense of authority. However, there are others who claim that it may actually be true, given the fact that 3D printing is a relatively low-cost technology when compared to some of the other technologies used in medicine today.

Neighboring South Korea

South Korea is arguably more advanced than its northern counterpart, and it’s also well-known for cosmetic surgery and technology. Medical engineers in this country are still trying to figure out how to use 3D printing in medicine and dentistry, and they aren’t sure how to regulate it, either. Back in June, a working 3D printer at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was shown off during a trade show, but the televised broadcast of a functional 3D printer model used in medicine in North Korea is a first for the entire area.

Whether or not North Korea has actually obtained a 3D printer that is capable of constructing or reconstructing a human jaw for surgical or dental purposes, the fact is that the technology itself is advanced enough to be used for synthesizing bones. It is certainly possible that the scientists and physicians there will be the first to use a 3D printed jaw in surgery.

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