'3D printing is booming'

Updated 2017-08-21 09:30:17 China Daily
Three visitors admire a 3D printer at the Additive Manufacturing Conference of China 2017 on July 30 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Three visitors admire a 3D printer at the Additive Manufacturing Conference of China 2017 on July 30 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

China's many industries, fields of human endeavor utilize a well-developed ecosystem to embrace the new technology

Medical, automotive, machinery, consumer electronics, aviation, toys, home decor, even art ... it appears there is not an industry, sector or field of human endeavor in China that has not been touched by the revolutionary three-dimensional or 3D printing technology yet.

Barring the second child that government policy allows married couples to have now, everything else can be 3D-printed-or so it seems.

The 3D printing technology has helped create things like clothing, houses, sculpture, tumor models, machine parts, even drones.

Take for instance the patient who underwent a brain surgery in Beijing recently.

The operation was unconventional, almost science fiction-like, to say the least. Yet, it was real. And successful.

At the end of it all, his brain was covered with ReDura, a 3D-printed membrane, by experts at Peking University Third Hospital.

ReDura is a product of Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co Ltd, a Guangzhou-based 3D-bioprinting company.

Yuan Yuyu, chairman of Medprin, said: "Brain surgery incisions used to be covered with membrane made up of animal-sourced materials, which exposes patients to risks of disease transmission.

"It also takes a long time for these animal tissues to be fully integrated into patients' own tissues, which prolongs suffering," he said.

ReDura, which is created using 3D printing machines, is made up of biodegradable material. (Experts use heavy-duty technical terms to explain that the membrane's "custom-made biomimetic structure" resembles that of the "microstructure of the native dural matrix", which provides an "appropriate scaffold" for the "proliferation of cells" to "rapidly repair the defective area".)

Suffice to say it's magical, amazing and wonderful enough to be a worthy replacement for the previous versions of the membrane.

No wonder, ReDura has received the approval of the China Food and Drug Administration and gained acceptance in the European Union.

ReDura is just the tip of the 3D printing iceberg.

Chinese companies have made rapid advances in 3D printing technology, whose formal name is additive layer manufacturing.

Progress spans both fundamental research and manufacturing techniques. Different from traditional manufacturing, which is based on the removal of material by cutting and drilling, 3D printing creates objects by consistently laying down materials, such as wax, metal and polyurethane, based on virtual blueprints from computer-aided designs.

One impressive example in the aviation sector is the C919, China's first large passenger jetliner, which has 3D-printed components that help reduce its weight and shorten the delivery schedule. The big plane made its maiden flight earlier this year.

Wang Peng, secretary-general of the Additive Manufacturing Alliance of China or AMAC, said after years of development, 3D printing is entering a new phase in China, from an innovative concept to something quite helpful in upgrading manufacturing plants, hospitals and even classrooms.

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