Doctors in North Korea say they are working with a new 3D printer that can reproduce bone for cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Footage on a news segment on KCTV showed several doctors working on the printer, apparently working on assembling a human lower jaw. The news piece also said the printer would help North Korean doctors work with detailed images and models, saving time and improving the precision of medical procedures.
“With this new technology, we can mould various bone fragments through a detailed facial blueprint,” said Dr Hwang Seong-hyeok from the state department of dentistry.
Although it isn’t clear that the product has been seen by anyone outside of North Korea, the news segment also showed a couple of documents that they claim are a certification of assessment from the “intellectual products exhibition” and a “patent of certification”.
Even South Korea, a world leader is cosmetic surgery and technology is still establishing regulations for 3D printing in medicine.
“We are calibrating 3D Printers for procedures of dental implant prosthesis and physicians … are taking advantage of the current limits that 3D Printers can take,” Park Hyun-wee at the 3D Convergence Technology Center in Seoul said.
“3D Printers also remain in the R&D paradigm of inspection and testing, a strict set of guidelines that would assure regulators of the variety of industries 3D Printers could shape,” he added.
If the claim turns out to be true, it would be a bold step forward for North Korea’s medical industry. Given that their health system is reportedly struggling with broken equipment and declining treatment, it is doubtful the technology will be rolled out widely.
In June, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology showed off its 3D printer at the Pyongyang trade show, but this is the first time a working model has been shown on state television linked to medical advancements.
Featured Image: Kim Jong Un. Image: KNS/AFP