August 2016

While South Korea is becoming recognized as one of the most progressive nations in terms of adopting and advancing 3D printing technologies—through fast track approvals in the medical sector and eventax exemptions for businesses conducting R&D within the field of additive manufacturing—its neighbour to the North has not been as readily vested in the emerging technological field. According to a few sources, however, this might be changing.

Just two months ago, DPRK 360, an initiative that aims to capture and promote elements of North Korean life through photographs, released a photo of a North Korean 3D printer being advertised. While the advert raised a number of questions, primarily because the 3D printer advertised looked a lot like an existing MakerBot 3D Replicator 3D printer, it still indicated that the isolated and largely maligned country was becoming interested in 3D printing and was looking to stake its place within the industry.

Now, as evidenced in footage from Korean Central Television (KCTV), North Korea seems to have developed a 3D printer with applications in cosmetic surgery and dentistry. More specifically, the footage from the news program shows a team of doctors working with the 3D printing technology to create a model of a human’s lower jaw. Notably, the 3D printer in the footage looks a lot less like the MakerBot Replicator than the 3D printer previously advertised.

Dr. Hwang Seong Hyeok, a member of North Korea’s Department of Dentistry said, “With this new technology, we can mould various bone fragments through a detailed facial blueprint.” As mentioned, it seems that the focus for the 3D printer at the moment is on the manufacturing of parts for the cosmetic surgery and dentistry fields. In another shot, the footage also presents two documents which are reportedly a certification of assessment from the “intellectual products exhibition” and a “patent of certification”, though these do not indicate whether it is certified anywhere beyond North Korea.

According to NK News, an American based website that follows North Korean news and stories, this is the first time that a functioning 3D printer has ever been shown or presented by North Korean media. Of course, there was the photo from two months ago, but that was simply a brochure advertisement. Despite being the first 3D printer shown through media outlets, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) in North Korea reportedly has a number of 3D printers at its facilities, which are used for prototyping.

While it remains doubtful that North Korea, with its limited resources, will become a force within the world of 3D printing, it is at the very least interesting to see how the technology has reached into some of the most isolated and remote parts of the world and could help advance certain fields, like dentistry.



Posted in 3D Printer



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