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Geriatrics 2018, 3(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/geriatrics3040089

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

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
2
Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
3
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
4
Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, School of Electrical Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo FI-00076, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 3 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Geriatric Rehabilitation)
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Abstract

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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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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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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