Mar 15, 2016 | By Tess

Amos Dudley, an undergraduate student from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, always felt a bit self-conscious when he smiled because of a couple crooked teeth in his mouth. No longer wanting to impede his own happiness, Dudley set out to straighten out his smile, but found that he could not afford exorbitant orthodontic procedural costs. His solution? To 3D scan his own mouth, and 3D print his own set of teeth aligners.

Though it sounds unbelievable, the results of the DIY 3D printed aligners seem to have really worked, and Amos Dudley explains how exactly he accomplished this impressive feat on his blog.

With little money, but access to some state of the art 3D scanning and printing technologies, and a whole lot of determination, Amos was able to similarly recreate actual orthodontic procedures to modify his own mouth. As he explains on his blog, “So what does one need to do this themselves? Knowledge of orthodontic movement, a 3D scanner, a mold of the teeth, CAD software, a hi-res 3D printer, retainer material, and a vacuum forming machine. I realized, I had - or could acquire - all of these things.”

After significant research into the orthodontic procedure he was undertaking, Amos made a mold of his upper teeth using alginate powder, Permastone, and a 3D printed impression tray. Next, he cast the mold by placing it upside down in a yogurt container and filled the container with liquid Permastone. When the casting was done, Amos used a NextEngine laser scanner to 3D scan the cast of his mouth, which went well thanks to the matte surface of the Permastone material.

Alginate mold

Permastone cast

With the 3D scan uploaded, Amos was able to animate his mouth to put his teeth in the straight positions he was determined to get. He explains, “ Creating the animation was also fairly trivial- I separated the visible crowns of the teeth from the gumline, and then made a manifold model from each of the shells…Then it was just a matter of animating them into their correct positions. I measured the total distance of travel, and divided it by the maximum recommended distance a tooth can travel per aligner. Each frame of animation was baked into a new STL model.”

Amos 3D printed a total of six aligners, each for a different stage of moving his teeth, using his university’s Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D printer, capable of printing with an accuracy under 0.1mm. He also 3D printed a “riser” on his own 3D printer to hold up the individual liners during the plastic vacuum stage.

3D printed aligners + Rise

Vacuum former

From there, Amos used a safe vacuum forming plastic called Keystone Pro-Form .030”, an inert retainer material, and a Formech vacuum former to create the actual aligners over the 3D printed models. With the vacuum forming done, Amos was able to cut the 3D print from the aligner, the edges of which he smoothed down with a Dremel and a sanding drum. With his set of homemade aligners done, Amos set about testing them out and found that after wearing them, in varying stages, for 16 weeks, all day and all night, his teeth corrected themselves almost perfectly.

Amos concludes on his blog, “As far as I know, I’m the first person to have tried DIY-ing plastic aligners. They’re much more comfortable than braces, and fit my teeth quite well. I was pleased to find, when I put the first one on, that it only seemed to put any noticeable pressure on the teeth that I planned to move- a success! I’ve been wearing them all day and all night for 16 weeks, only taking them out to eat. I’m planning on fabricating a bunch of retainers for the current position, which I can use - till I die - at night.”

The ingenious student, who did not lose hope when he could not get his teeth professionally fixed but rather set out to fix them himself, is now proudly showing off his pearly whites, smiling freely wherever he goes. That being said, perhaps his method of DIY dentistry is not for everyone to attempt, but still the results are astounding!

Amos wearing the first aligner

Amos after 16 weeks



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Alvaro wrote at 3/17/2016 2:28:22 AM:

Congratulations mr. Dudley .Now we need a breaktrough in dental implants using biomaterials to replace the titanium implants.

Jeremy wrote at 3/17/2016 12:38:23 AM:

So good that someone has finally done some DIY dentistry. Hopefully something that catches on!

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