Technology constantly fuels advances in all aspects of day-to-day life. Three-dimensional (3D) printing is the latest advancement in modern dentistry. Dental laboratories can utilize 3D printing to streamline their workflows and automate processes that were once very manual. Labs are now able to provide their clients with the same high quality dental devices they previously produced, but at a faster rate and a lower cost. This faster processing time also allows labs to expand their clientele due to increased production.
Dental 3D printing is the fabrication process of dental devices using a layer-by-layer method incorporating computer-aided designs and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. Dental laboratories can now quickly and efficiently produce devices such as dentures, models, surgical guides, nightguards, splints, impression trays, temporary restorations, and permanent restorations. Dental 3D printers allow dental laboratories to transition from analog methods to digital dentistry for a better and more efficient workflow to provide these devices to dental practices.
A dental 3D printer can make a variety of dental treatment devices conveniently in your laboratory. This technology streamlines the process between the lab and dental practice. No matter the device, dental labs are supplying their clients with the same high quality products in a fraction of the production time.
Here are some of the devices dental laboratory technicians can now conveniently and quickly produce in their labs.
There are several factors to consider when determining the best dental 3D printer for your lab.
There are several 3D printing techniques available to the dental industry today. The two most common are Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Printing (DLP).
This method combines a vat of light-cured resin and a light-sensitive laser to construct layers. The layers build on top of each other until the device is fully formed. The laser beam strikes the print area and solidifies the resin.
Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) technology is employed to remove the device from the resin tank. This technology contributes to the finish and accuracy of the product.
This method uses the same liquid resin to construct the object upside down. The resin is solidified with a digital projector as opposed to a laser.
Both SLA and DLP 3D dental printers function in similar ways. Differences between the quality of the item, the cost, the available materials, and other factors have more to do with the printer than the technology.
There are other traits to look for that will set apart one dental printer from another.
The dental printing product needs to be of the utmost quality and supreme accuracy. There are many factors that play a role in a product's accuracy and printing. They include the printing technology, the software settings, the material used, and the printer's calibration.
You and your staff want a 3D printer that is easy to use, commonly known as plug and play. The printer will now become a part of your day-to-day operation, so upkeep and maintenance are paramount to ensure that you are maximizing the return on your new equipment. Ease of use means you spend more time consulting with your customers, cross training in the lab and staying up to date on the latest technology and advancements in the dental industry.
When it comes to 3D printing, laboratories are served by identifying what appliances they are printing most frequently and how their 3D printer will assist in the production process. For example, if a laboratory is printing final appliances, choosing a printer with increased accuracy is more important than speed. If the volume is important then the laboratory should explore a printer solution that can support a larger print volume. This allows your dental lab to maximize production while increasing its ROI.
The idea behind a technological upgrade is to make a process you repeat quite often more efficient and faster. Of course, there is going to be a cost with each new piece of equipment you purchase. That's quite true of a 3D dental printer.
You need to determine if your upfront costs — the purchase price, software, and training that comes with it — combined with your running costs and your service and maintenance costs make the investment worth it.
Available materials vary by printer make and model. Some printers will only be able to produce basic dental devices while others can print a wide array of options.
Some printers require purchasing materials through the manufacturer. Others are open systems and allow for purchasing from third-party dealers.
Cost depends on the type of 3D dental printer, the dental printing technology, and the type of device the printer can produce.
Yes! Dental labs can now produce many of the common devices faster and more efficiently than ever. Dental printing eliminates the wait times and inconsistencies made by using traditional impressions.
Yes, 3D dental printers can produce replacement teeth and denture teeth.
Light-cured resin is molded in layers until the dental models are complete.
Yes! Digital dentures are just one of the treatment devices that can be produced with a dental 3D printer. Other devices include teeth, models, surgical guides, nightguards, impression trays, restorations, and more.
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