Sep 18, 2017 | By Benedict

Align Technology, creator of Invisalign dental technology, is heading toward $1.3 billion in 2017 sales thanks to its 3D scanning and 3D printing method of creating custom-made dental aligners. The company operates between 50 and 60 3D printers at its factory.

With 220,000 customer-specific, 3D printed clear aligners produced by Align Technology every day, it’s clear that smile-conscious consumers are ready trust 3D printing technology in the dental industry.

California-headquartered Align, which uses 50 to 60 stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers to create this huge number of customized dental products, is reportedly heading toward $1.3 billion in sales for this year, fundamentally changing the orthodontic process for customers.

It’s also inspiring a number of similar companies to adopt the same model. Just a few days ago we took a look at New York startup Candid, which offers low-cost 3D printed aligners by mail order.

It’s those clear 3D printed aligners, the kind also being produced by copycat companies, that make up 91 per cent of Align’s revenue, but the company’s other products are also taking off in a big way.

4.5 million patients around the world have used Invisalign dental aligners

Most of that remaining nine per cent comes from the company’s iTero 3D Scanning system for dentists. The iTero system lets dental professionals get a complete 3D model of a patient’s teeth, allowing them to carry out more precise dental and orthodontic work.

“The new iTero brand identity is more human and empowering than ever before,” said Raphael Pascaud, Chief Marketing, Portfolio and Business Development Officer at Align, upon the launch of the new “brand identity” for the 3D scanning solution last week.

“It communicates our commitment to creating technology that works for people, not the other way around, making iTero scanners an extension of our customers' skills,” Pascaud added. “We believe iTero scanners can revolutionize doctors' communication and treatment planning, as well as the patient experience for practices of all sizes, all over the world.”

Align Technology uses 3D Systems SLA 3D printers to make its Invisalign aligners

Still, it’s the clear aligners that have made Align a force to be reckoned with around the world. The aligners are made from an FDA-approved polymer, but San Jose-based Align is reportedly exploring the use of several new materials as it looks to the future.

Srini Kaza, Align’s Vice President of Product Innovation, has said that new material formulations will surpass even the high standard of current Invisalign aligners. Current models are 3D printed on 3D Systems printers, including the iPro 8000 model.

Since its inception, Align has shipped 327 million dental aligners to 4.5 million patients—unprecedented numbers for a 3D printed dental product and a warning sign to those in the business of more traditional dental solutions. The company says that, “by combining digital treatment planning and mass-customization, with shape-engineering based on biomechanical principles,” it has “revolutionized the orthodontic industry,” and it’s hard to disagree.

In June 2017, Align opened a treatment planning facility in Chengdu, China. The 3D printed Invisalign system is now offered in more than 90 countries worldwide by Invisalign-trained doctors to adult and teenage patients.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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