Jan 23, 2016 | By Andre

The medical world and 3D Printing are bound to remain friends for the foreseeable future. This is the case because while all humans are essentially made of the same stuff, the unique nature of an individual can make a one-size fits all solution a difficult undertaking. Even though we’re not quite there (yet) in terms of 3D printing internal organs; significant strides have been made with prosthetic limbs, hearing aids and dental solutions that are enabling things to be done faster, cheaper and better.

It now appears another milestone in 3D printing and dentistry has been reached after Rik Jacobs, CEO of Vertex-Dental B.V./NextDent B.V. had, for the first time ever, a 3D printed crown inserted into his mouth using a specially formulated material called MFH (Micro Filled Hybrid). At the Vertex-Dental/NextDent "3D printing in Dental, a Game Changer" conference on Jan 22, 2016, Jacob revealed how the first 3D printed Micro Filled Hybrid crown was developed and fitted perfectly to his mouth.

This confidence shown in his product counts for a lot during a time where medical 3D printing is still seen as a science-fiction dream to a lot of naysayers. Jacobs has said “I am very proud that we can now show the world that the printing of a (permanent) crown on a root implant has become a reality! The crown fits perfectly, because it has been 3D printed to an accuracy on a µm scale.”

For this to have taken place, a great deal of research, medical certifications and material science investment had to be undertaken to be sure. To start, the 3D printable material of the crown is a bio-compatible material specifically designed for dentistry and implantation. A complex balance between inorganic fillers and resin are what give the material its high strength, wear resistance and ability to be stained and polished just like what one might do with natural teeth.

Beyond the material itself lies the process to produce the crown. A combination of 3D scanning of the patient’s mouth, a digital touchup, followed by the 3D printing process on a machine from Dutch research institute TNO and then some finishing work all went into the perfect replacement crown. Then Jacobs underwent the procedure performed by Professor Daniel Wismeijer, Professor of Oral Implantology and Prosthetic Dentistry at the ACTA (Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam). For more details on the procedure, I recommend checking out this video provided by the company.

CEO Rik Jacobs suggests that “a new infrastructure has been developed. As the 3D scanners, software, materials, hardware (printers) and the correct tools for post-processing / finishing of the workpieces have undergone (completed) technical development, we are convinced that 3D Printing for dental applications is about to take off.” He believes the global Dental 3D printing market will grow from 1 billion dollars today, to a 3 billion dollar industry by 2020.

Considering his recent procedure and the core mission statement by which his company operates, he really is putting his money where his mouth is. NextDent, founded in 2012 specializes almost exclusively in the manufacture of dental CE certified and bio-compatible 3D printed materials. In the long term, the company hopes to transform the entire industry from a traditional craft to a high-tech 3D print environment.

Luckily, the ambitions of NextDent and its CEO are not just in place to turn a profit. 3D Printing offers a great deal of improved efficiency over current traditions in dentistry. Predictability, time savings, waste reduction and cost savings are all realistic goals for NextDent as it moves forward in material development.

Prof. Daniel Wisemeijer, Professor of Oral Implantology and Prosthetic Dentistry at the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam has stated that “It is amazing how efficient the 3D printing technique is. Normally, patients need to undergo various treatments, but with the use of the 3D digital workflow, this can be reduced significantly.” He also happens to be the one that performed the crown replacement operation on Rik Jacobs.

Out of all the medical fields that 3D Printing is finding a place in, dentistry closest to being a perfect match. NextDent is positioned to become an industry leader in the years to come and considering the confidence their CEO has in their product, I’ll be paying close attention as things develop.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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