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Open AccessArticle

Economic Potential for Distributed Manufacturing of Adaptive Aids for Arthritis Patients in the U.S.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
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Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
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Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
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Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, School of Electrical Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo FI-00076, Finland
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geriatrics 2018, 3(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/geriatrics3040089
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 3 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Geriatric Rehabilitation)
By 2040, more than a quarter of the U.S. population will have diagnosed arthritic conditions. Adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions earn less than average yet have medical care expenditures that are over 12% of average household income. Adaptive aids can help arthritis patients continue to maintain independence and quality of life; however, their high costs limit accessibility for older people and the poor. One method used for consumer price reduction is distributed manufacturing with 3-D printers. In order to assess if such a method would be financially beneficial, this study evaluates the techno-economic viability of distributed manufacturing of adaptive aids for arthritis patients. Twenty freely accessible designs for 3-D printable adaptive aids were successfully fabricated on low-cost desktop 3-D printers and performed their functions adequately. The financial savings averaged >94% compared to commercially-available products. Overall, twenty adaptive aids were printed for US$20 of plastic; while on average, each adaptive aid would save over US$20. As printing a tiny subset of the adaptive aids needed by a single patient would recover the full capital and operational costs of a low-cost 3-D printer, it can be concluded that there is considerable potential for distributed manufacturing to assist arthritis patients. View Full-Text
Keywords: 3-D printing; additive manufacturing; arthritis; adaptive aid; distributed manufacturing; economics; motor skills; person–environment interaction; cost-effective 3-D printing; additive manufacturing; arthritis; adaptive aid; distributed manufacturing; economics; motor skills; person–environment interaction; cost-effective
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gallup, N.; Bow, J.K.; Pearce, J.M. Economic Potential for Distributed Manufacturing of Adaptive Aids for Arthritis Patients in the U.S.. Geriatrics 2018, 3, 89.

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