Jan 10, 2018 | By David

3D printed ceramics are continuing to develop at a considerable rate, and the technology’s improvement is increasing the number of potential applications it has, in a variety of sectors. The latest advance in this field today saw China’s Porimy 3D Printing Technology Co., Ltd, a start-up offshoot of the Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute, announce the launch of an industrial-grade high-performance ceramic 3D printer. The company also released a ceramic slurry material to work with the 3D printer, and it has received the first official medical device registration certificate for 3D printed ceramic dentures.

Founded in July 2008, Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute, based in east China's Jiangsu Province, is a state-owned enterprise that conducts research and development for public technology applications. Its 3D Printing Materials and Technology Research and Development Center is currently focused on a range of different projects, including photo-sensitive resin-based 3D printing materials, ceramic-based 3D printing materials such as cobalt oxide ceramic slurry, biological inks, and 3D printing with food ingredients such as chocolate.

Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute holds a 40 percent stake in Porimy 3D Printing Technology, and one of the shareholders is Professor Wang Yun Gan, a professor and doctoral tutor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Since the 1990s, Gan has been devoted to rapid prototyping research, and in recent years he has focused on bio-tissue engineering scaffolds and 3D printed dentures.

Back in the 1970s, German company VITA invented In-Ceram technology to create the first ceramic dental fixtures, and since then the strength of the ceramic crown has been greatly improved. Fully ceramic crowns now boasts a realistic aesthetic effect and can be quickly applied in clinical situations. Zirconia teeth are currently one of the most advanced types of ceramic porcelain teeth, with an internal structure that uses zirconia ceramic materials.

Before the invention of 3D printing technology, dentists made use of wax to create molds of patients' mouths and teeth. These molds would undergo several rounds of carving and changes, before being sent to workshops where the false teeth were made. This whole process used to be very long, and the implementation of 3D printing techniques greatly improved its efficiency, saving on materials and costs as well as time.

A quick 3D scan of the inside of a patient’s mouth, and the generation of a virtual 3D model ready for 3D printing, is all that is required to create an accurate dental mold. In recent years, metal 3D printing technology has gradually been applied for the manufacturing of dental crowns, bridges, stents, etc. However, the 3D printing of ceramic dentures is a more difficult task. The difficulty lies in both the material and the necessary laser curing technology. The material needs to flow consistently but also quickly solidify.

The new ceramic 3D printer developed by Porimy uses laser scanning to cure its own proprietary slurry material, with a high ceramic content. The laser power, spot size and scanning speed are all variable during the 3D printing process. The resulting zirconia ceramic dentures meet the industry’s high strength and accurate topography requirements, as well as having a high level of permeability.

Similar dentures are usually made by CNC cutting technology. However, during the cutting stage, many materials can be unnecessarily cut off which results in an inefficient, inexpensive process. This may also cause internal cracks in the denture due to the cutting forces. The 3D printed zirconia ceramic dentures are not affected by these cracks, and the technique’s material utilization rate is as high as 90%.

Porimy’s 3D printed zirconia ceramic denture production line has passed extensive mechanical, property and biological inspections. In October 2017, the company obtained a medical device registration certificate in order to officially release China’s first 3D printed ceramic denture on to the market.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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