Oct 26, 2016 | By Andre

With the scope of 3D printing’s usefulness expanding every passing day, there’s no wonder the sectors that have embraced the technology since its beginnings continue to innovate into the cutting edge. Aerospace, automotive and general prototyping are all 3D printing mainstays to be sure, but so is an oft forgotten sector and that is the hyper-specialized field of dentistry.

The reason for this relies on the fact that medically safe bridges and crowns (to name a few) can be modelled and ultimately 3D printed using a highly accurate scan of a patient’s mouth. It is with this accuracy in form that dentistry focused 3D printing technology is made a realistic replacement to the more craft driven procurers.

So when Spanish 3D printing entrepreneurs Microlay announced DentalFab as their first commercially released 3D printer it seemed a perfect path to take.

Their unit uses projector driven DLP (digital light processing) technology as their base to achieve high accuracy 3D printing (50 micron x/y and up to 10 micron per layer) with a build capacity (473x357x464mm) suitable for dental requirements. And while the advertised max printing speed of 40mm/h is slow compared to high-speed specific dental 3D printers like Structo’s OrthoForm series, the relatively low unit cost of roughly 10.000€ makes the 3D printer appealing in the mid-range market.

The company notes that DentalFab is “specially designed to bring the 3D printing to the professionals of the dental field. Thanks to its velocity, accuracy, resolution and its compact shape, it is perfect for any kind of dental lab.” This further illustrates its target market of smaller dental offices that are scattered en masse around the globe.

As is the process for most dental related 3D print technologies, a properly formatted 3D scan of the patients features is required before the DentalFab can work its magic. They claim that once the scan data is collected, you are able to process and 3D print the relevant data in just a few clicks.

Beyond the high resolution dental specific core already described, the DentalFab has anodized aluminum finishes to extend its lifespan, a 7” touchscreen that can load directly the relevant print files, wifi connectivity right out of the box, SmartLift software optimization protocols and an integrated post-processing chamber for uniform part curing.

From a materials perspective, they suggest that their filtered UV light source ensures compatibility with most resins on the market today (including resins of 365 or 405nm). The company also lists surgical guides, temporal bridges and crowns, dental models, bases, bite splits and invisible aligners as perfect uses for their 3D printer.

In terms of software, it appears much of their slicing, cleanup tools are reliant on Autodesk’s Meshmixer and not their own bottom up software solutions. But this reliance should not be seen as a negative. If anything, with this easily accessible software and range of material options, its no wonder that they also promote jewelry making and hearing aids as potential categories of marketability.

Still a young company (much of the Microlay team started out building FDM 3D printers with Kitprinter3d as recent as 2013, they do have global ambitions. In a quick note to 3ders, they mention their current business strategy of creating a global network of 3D printer distributors.

So while its yet to be determined if this dental focused, yet still very versatile 3D printer has what it takes to compete with more established players like Stratasys and even FormLabs (on the entry-level SLA), there’s no doubt this slick first-generation release by Microlay is an impressive feat of technology and certainly pushes the envelope that little bit further.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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Walter Zimbeck wrote at 10/26/2016 7:46:09 PM:

Thanks for the great article about Microlay. Note, the build capacity mentioned in the article (473x357x464mm) is not correct. That is the dimensions of the machine. The build capacity (print volume per the website) is: 107 x 60 x 165 mm.



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