Virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Program addresses additive manufacturing of PPE

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation virtual program for the project on “Addressing the Last Mile of Additive Manufacturing Use for PPE – Assisting Regulators” was conducted on Oct. 27-28, 2021. Consistent with ASTM’s commitment to serving global societal needs that address health and safety, consumer confidence, and the overall quality of life, ASTM International was an integral part of planning and implementing this US self-funded APEC project.

The APEC program gave participants the opportunity to learn about the role standards play in additive manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs. The program also outlined how standards support potential convergent regulation for these products in the region. Over 180 participants from 13 APEC economies joined the conference over two days.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the shortfalls in PPE and NP swabs. Because these products are used in health care, they may require approval established by relevant regulatory ministries and agencies. While additive manufacturing can accelerate and localize production of the products, consensus standards are often needed to support regulatory approval.

The APEC project is meant to facilitate public and private sector information exchange to evaluate how lack of consensus standards for AM PPE and NP swabs slowed regulatory approval, market access, and distribution in certain economies during the pandemic. The presentations and discussions highlighted the need and benefit of working toward a contemporary evaluation framework based on appropriate standard specifications and test methods for additively manufactured products. The end goal was to help ensure APEC economies can remain resilient and less vulnerable to future public health emergencies.

The virtual program was overseen by Kent Shigetomi, assistant U.S. trade representative for WTO and multilateral affairs, Alex Liu, ASTM International head of additive manufacturing programs Asia region, and Teresa Cendrowska, ASTM International vice president of global cooperation.

Shigetomi and Cendrowska opened the event, which featured ten speakers from seven APEC economies. Opening remarks were given by Mohsen Seifi, Ph.D., ASTM International’s director of global additive manufacturing programs.

Liu was one of several presenters at the event, speaking on a recently issued “Strategic Guide for Additive Manufacturing – Summary of the Findings and Recommendations.”

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