In an interview with Hello Singapore (狮城有约), a local Mandarin news and current affairs programme, Assoc Prof Tor Shu Beng, Singapore Centre for 3D Printing Interim Executive Director, explains how 3D printing technology can be used to alleviate the shortage of medical supplies during a medical crisis such as Covid-19, and shares his insights on patent and intellectual property (IP) infringement issues when 3D printing parts for medical supplies.
Assoc Prof Tor shares that 3D printing can be used to quickly produce parts, such as valves for medical equipment, face shields and mask extenders, to meet the urgent demand during a medical crisis. However, people who 3D print such items should be mindful of the potential patent and IP infringements, as the design, material used and manufacturing method to create the products may be protected by existing patents.
Assoc Prof Tor also shares that the use of additive manufacturing is uncommon in Singapore due to the low volume of production compared to traditional manufacturing. He explains that rather looking at additive manufacturing as a future replacement to traditional manufacturing, additive manufacturing should be seen as complementary to traditional manufacturing instead. Additive manufacturing can produce highly complex and customised products within a short amount of time, which makes it more advantageous when producing highly personalised medical products such as hearing aids and orthopaedic implants. Assoc Prof Tor expects more local manufacturers to take up additive manufacturing when Singapore is able to produce its own materials for 3D printing, which potentially lowers production costs as compared to importing materials from overseas.
The interview is conducted in Mandarin.
狮城有约 Hello Singapore (8world.com), 8 May 2020