Feb 20, 2016 | By Tess

3D printing is gradually revolutionizing many industries, from design, to engineering, to medicine, and even to dentistry. The latest in 3D printed dentistry comes from additive manufacturing company Formlabs. Their Form 2 3D printer, which retails for $3,499, offers its users high resolution SLA additive manufacturing and is reportedly designed with digital dentistry in mind. That is, Formlabs boasts their SLA 3D printer is capable of additively manufacturing high quality surgical guides for dentists, retainers and aligners, educational models, as well as crowns and bridges.

Normally, and I’m sure we’re all aware of the process, dentists would have to make an impression or mold of their patient’s teeth, a generally unpleasant experience, and have that sent to an external lab to have surgical guides or retainers custom manufactured. Now, thanks to 3D scanning and 3D printing technology, dentists are able to scan their patient’s teeth quickly and painlessly and have the data sent to an in-office 3D printer, turning what was a week’s long process into only a few hours.

Dr. Scherer, who runs an office for prosthodontics and implant dentistry in Sonoma, California and who has integrated a Form 2 3D printer into his practice says, “Having my own in-office 3D printer saves a tremendous amount of time and expense in the laboratory. I can do the entire surgical guide process in about an hour and a half, instead of having to be able to send it away for a week.” To see his full testimony, see the video at the end of the page.

The Form 2 SLA 3D printer also allows for dentists to additively manufacture in a variety of materials, offering the potential for highest quality prints for various applications. For instance an STL file could be 3D printed in a Castable Resin material allowing dentists to easily and affordably cast crowns, bridges, or partial frameworks in metal or lithium disilicate. For prints such as surgical models, Formlabs suggests using any of their standard resin materials.

Dr. Sean Holliday, owner of three orthodontic offices in Hawaii has also commented on introducing the Form 2 into his practice, and testified to its efficiency. “When using third party labs [to make plastic retainers], it can become costly with additional laboratory fees and shipping costs. The shipping adds many days, sometimes even weeks, to the fabrication process that did not work well with our commitment to our patients to be efficient with their time.”

Since investing in the Form 2 SLA 3D printer, Dr. Holliday has been able to 3D print custom retainers in about 2.5 hours, making on average 20 a week and saw a return of his investment in only 3 months.

The 3D printing technology has also helped dental surgeons to create detailed and accurate educational models to explain procedures to patients as well as teach dentists in training about certain operations.

“Using 3D Printing technology to generate a full-scale model of a patient’s lower jaw, students are able to simulate implant surgery using an anatomically correct model of the jaw, greatly enhancing their education by making it realistic,” said Dr. Scherer who is also a clinical instructor at University of Nevada in Las Vegas and an assistant clinical professor at Loma Linda University.

Formlabs’ Form 2 SLA 3D printer was released in September 2015 and has been touted as one of the most advanced desktop 3D printers on the market, with a build volume of 5.7 x 5.7 x 6.9 in (145 x 145 x 175mm) and a layer height of 25 to 200 microns. With its signature orange casing, be sure to keep an eye out to see if your dentist’s office has purchased one, and maybe your pearly whites will become a part of dentistry’s future.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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John Smith wrote at 2/21/2016 10:45:12 AM:

Wow... better than all EUR50K to 90K out there. for $3500 to get this machine in my lab - it is what i was looking for!

Alvaro wrote at 2/21/2016 2:38:19 AM:

Great! The link below shows the possibility that we can replace The titanium dental implants printing copies with biomaterials http://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJRAPIDM.2011.040692

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