May 3, 2016 | By Kira

Planmeca Oy, one of the world’s largest dental equipment manufacturers, has today launched a new 3D printer specifically for dental professionals. The Planmeca Creo is a DLP machine with the capability to 3D print custom dental splints, implants, surgical guides and other medical models. At the same time, it is just the latest in a range of recently developed and powerful 3D printing products that are fulfilling the demand for fast, cheap and high-quality medical solutions, and changing the face of personalized healthcare as we know it.

Indeed, Planmeca’s choice to develop its own dental 3D printer is part of an ongoing (and rapidly growing) trend towards the use of additive manufacturing in healthcare environments. While we could easily talk about 3D printed medical solutions more generally (in the past months alone, we’ve seen both 3D Systems and Stratasys, two of the biggest players in industrial 3D printing, launch their own healthcare technology centers, which will focus on everything from 3D printed hip implants to virtual reality surgical simulations), the dentist’s chair is one of the main areas where 3D printing has everyone smiling.

Traditionally, dental crowns and bridges have been manufactured through the process of investment casting. Dating back thousands of years, investment casting has been a tried-and-true method for making small and accurate metallic tools. But, as with so many other things in life, just because something has always been done a certain way, does not mean that is the best or only option.

As reliable as investment casting has been, it can also be a long, labor-intensive and costly process. 3D printing, on the other hand, is a manufacturing solution that has been developed over the past few decades precisely to be faster, easier and cheaper than ever before.

Major industry players have recognized this, and introduced dental-specific 3D printing solutions for everything from bleaching trays to bite guards. These include Renishaw and BioHorizons, Stratasys’ Objet500, Structo’s Orthoform and OmniForm, and the Formlabs Form 2. Another significant advantage is that making traditional molds can be quite uncomfortable or even painful for patients, whereas 3D scanning and 3D printing is virtually hands-free.

As one dentist put it, “In my clinical practice, I place implants with ease and efficiency using a [3D printed] surgical guide. No more guessing, no more figuring it out as we go, only digital precision.” Already, thousands of 3D printed models, crowns and bridges have been used in dental offices worldwide (in fact, even budget-conscious students are getting in on 3D printed orthodontics.

To come back to the new Planmeca specifically, the DLP (Digital Light Processing) 3D printer offers dental professionals the ability to create patient-specific splints, surgical guides, and other objects that require precise measurements and intricate detail, such as temporary fillings and orthodontic models, quickly and easily. The models are based off of 3D scans or digital imagery of the patient in question. The Planmeca Creo comes with dedicated 3D printing software, and the 3D objects are formed from UV curable resin.

According to Helsinki-based Planmeca, which already offers CAD/CAM solutions and 3D imaging devices for digital dentistry, their move into 3D printing will enable dental laboratories and clinics of all sizes to “perfect their craft and grow their business.”

“3D printing is the way of the future, as it permits labs and larger clinics to expand their production capabilities and increase efficiency”, said Jukka Kanerva, Vice President of Planmeca’s Dental care units & CAD/CAM devision. “We feel that 3D printing is set to take on a much more substantial role in dentistry – we can’t wait for our customers to see what Planmeca Creo is capable of.”

Planmeca's existing CAD/CAM dental solutions

Planmeca Oy, part of the Finnish healthcare and technology firm Planmeca Group, produces the majority of its technologies and products in Helsinki, yet distributes them to over 120 countries worldwide. Known for designing and manufacturing high-tech dental machines, CAD/CAM solutions, 2D and 3D x-ray equipment software, mammography, and dental instruments, is considered the largest privately held company in its field.

The Planmeca Creo Dental 3D printer is currently available for pre-order, with deliveries scheduled as early as June 2016. See it in action in the short teaser trailer below:

 

 

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