Definitely this seems like a good fit for 3D printing by making a painstaking process more affordable and cost effective. It's good to see the little labs being able to take advantage of the innovation.
I agree, Elizabeth. In many instances, the 3D printer seemed like a produict in search of a solution. Cool technology, but really, do we need one? The idea of smaller dentists using this makes a ton of sense.
I know what you mean, Rob. I personally don't see the excitement around 3D printing, but now that it's starting to be used for more useful purposes, I can see the draw. In my mind it seemed more like a hobbyist, self-indulgent thing--like a friend just told me he is going to provide files online so people could 3D print some of his company's designs at home for fun. But when the auto industry and now the dental industry is starting to use 3D printing as a way to make things cheaper and more efficient, it makes more sense, as you point out.
There is another area where 3D printing makes sense, Elizabeth -- prototypes. Design News has covered 3D applications related to prototypes. Plus, comments on the 3D printing stories indicate that 3D printing can actually save money as companies produce prototypes.
Yes Elizebeth you are correct initially i also used to consider that 3D printers are being used by hobbiests only .But after getting information that they are used in dental and automobile labs i am too astonished to see .Using 3D printers in digital labs will help make the models in less time, more sophisticately ,more neatly ,no special knowledge of computer is required this device is user friendly it eliminates the concepts of large racks in the dentist clincs having files of all patients instead by using 3D Printers all files are digitally stored in the computer in CAD format .It is less space occupying as well.
Indeed, Debera, 3D printing is proving to have far-reaching applications, maybe more than people imagined it would initially. Check out this slideshow I did on 3D printed body parts...this is the future! It's pretty incredible: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=263240
This is a good example of how technology is really improving dental equipment so that it can be more affordable and have a smaller footprint with minimal technical training needed. This will allow more dentists to offer a wider range of services within their existing practices and business models, which ultimately benefits the patient also.
Once we have a digital "image" of the crown, I would like the data to be fed to a small CNC milling machine which then sculpts the crown out of a modern corrosion proof alloy such as monel or Inconel. This would give a permanent crown without useng over-priced "squishy" metals. At present we use these precious alloys because they are amenable to low temperature casting, yet they are hardly ideal either mechanically nor economically.
The gold used for crowns is actually a very good material. It is very corrosion resistant and best of all it is not too hard. If you make a crown out of a material that is very hard it causes excess wear on the opposing teeth. I would only choose a hard material like porcelain on one of my teeth that is very visible and a color match with adjacent teeth is critical.
Interesting point. Of course if ceramic materials are not too hard (cause erosion of mating teeth) then i can't see why a metal would be. As for corrosion resistance, certainly any of the high-nickel alloys would be far more than adequate. Even the 300-series stainless steels would be fine. Perhaps I should mention that one reason I avoid gold is for ethical reasons, considering the corrupt, polluting and vicious industries that produce most of it.
Ceramics do cause a lot more wear on opposing teeth. The main reason they are used is because most people don't want to have a gold front tooth. People want a color matched ceramic (porcelain) for cosmetic reasons. The gold is much less likely to chip and is tougher. I'm not sure of the exact composition of the gold alloy used in crowns but I don't think they are even 50% gold.
I think this is an excellent point. I have had several crowns over the years and my dentist is very aware of proper color match. Is there a material applied to the crown or denture after modeling or is the color dependent upon the color of the 3-D material itself? At any rate, this seems to be an ideal application for 3-D printing and another example of technology being used to benefit mankind. I think it's great. Thank you Ann for posting this piece.
I am a dental technician. We use a scanner from 3shape who specialise in medical scanning.
The scanning can be done intra-oraliy or at a lab with a stone model.
From there with help from 3shape's cad design software we output in a range of formats depending on the manufacturing unit.
For crown and bridge dental restorations the printers must be accurate to 35 micron(mm) or better. The main printers in our industry at the moment are Envisiontec, 3D systems, Objet, Solidscape, and Asiga.
In my opinion this market is changing extremely fast and the labs and dentists left behind will find their work decrease dramaticaly within 5 years.
labwa, thanks for telling us about what this is like on the ground. Your experience reinforces what I'm being told by analysts and manufacturers about how fast the dental industry's use of 3D printing is changing. I just wish my own dentist was paying attention and could become motivated to change labs to take advantage of this technology.
J-allen, Gold is the best metal for implants because it has zero corrosion and absolutly no rejection problems. Stainless steel can have severe corrosion issues in the body, that's why it no longer is used in joints or other critical implants. Many people are allergic to nickel alloys also, even when it is used in jewelry. Have you ever looked at a fitting on a boat or railing and witnessed "stainless Steel" rust stains?
Titanium is another premium medical metal with no rejection or corrosion problems, however if you ever worked with it, it is very difficult to machine. Your average medical lab would have problems with it and would have a steep learning curve.
From my reading, dentists in China,Russia and other countries that don't have money to waste on gold seem to do just fine with non-precious alloys. (unless, I suppose, their patients routinely gargle with battery acid) It is true that pure nickel (alloy 200) will cause an allergic reaction in a small minority of people, but even for them, incorporating the nickel in alloys such as Inconel binds up the nickel so it apparently is not a problem. The amount of corrosion, while perhaps not "zero" is insignificant during a human lifetime. Remember that orthodontic braces are made of 300-series stainless which is far less corrosion resistant than the Inconel group yet they and don't dissolve in people's mouths. Saliva just ain't that nasty.
It is my understanding that a main attraction of gold is that the capital equipment to cast it into dental parts is quite cheap. Thus the dental lab gets off with minimal expense and passes the high cost of the metal on to the patient. One would hope that CNC technology would change that.
If you look at the galvanic table of metals, gold is way up near the top, stainless steel is below it. Stainless steel can be "passivated" to bring it closer to Gold, but passivation is a layer only a few atoms thick, one scratch and it will rust. The body has water and salt, condictive, just add two different metals and you get a battery, and one of them will corrode. Braces are "temporary" and removable for cleaning.
The Chinese put melamine in their infant formula to save money, I wouldn't use them as an example of healthy frugality. Every Russian I have ever met had a mouth full of gold crowns, so I'm not sure about that information.
If you want inexpensive but safe go ceramic(zirconium). Not galvanically active, nontoxic, easy to machine. The amount of gold in a crown is just a few grams, you couldn't fit an ounce in your mouth if you got all your teeth capped. Better to save money somewhere else and stay healthy.
j-allen, that's an interesting idea. However, I wonder about the bio-compatibility of some of the alloys you mention, Also, newer alloys have been created specifically for making these dental devices, for example, BEGO's Wirconium: http://begousa.com/Wironium_FAQ.wss
The article says that in a fully digital operation, impressions are no longer needed. I assume that the patient's mouth would be 3D scanned, correct? If so, what type of 3D scanner would be used for that?
Great question! I was wondering the same thing. Seems like that could be a greater cost than the "printing". Maybe that's why all of the analysts are bearish and assess Stratasys as a Sell right now? I wish someone had the answer to this question.
Stratasys didn't give any details on the 3D scanning software used. But a dental lab I spoke to that makes single-piece crowns and bridges, not models, using a different vendor's 3D printers mentioned to me that those printers talk to STL files, apparently a standard file format in 3D printing now, at least for dental applications.
Hi, Ann- we haven't talked for a while; In the time gap I've learned about three new 3D processes I hadn't previously been aware of --- just FYI (,,,but I bet you already know these,,,)
1. MakerBot – Yes, I heard of them, but recently saw & handled their FDM parts and learned the apparatus is only $2,200 to own. It prints ABS in .004" layers [100 microns]. Fantastic capability at that price.
2. 3D-Touch - Also FDM, also runs ABS, also .004", but a little higher priced apparatus at $3,900. (So many similar features considered, I think Maker-Bot may have them beat).
3. EnvisionTec, based in Germany (and Detroit) makes a printer using a patented technology called voxilation (volume-pixilation). It seems to be a cross between FDM and Objet PolyJet printing with very fine Z-step resolution at .001" [25 microns]. While Objet has long had superior Z resolution (about half that much at 10 microns), the compelling point was the machine cost was advertised at $40,000, significantly lower than previous Objet prices. That is, until I read your article showing Objet now at $39,000. Wondering if EnvisionTec forced Objet to that price-point-?
Thanks, JimT. We're already on to these. MakerBot has been around quite awhile, as has 3D Touch. The latter was made by 3D Systems, and is now listed on its "discontinued personal printer" page: http://cubify.com/legacy/ DN has covered EnvisionTec as far back as 2008: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=209213 http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=228209 http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=229043 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=211771 Interesting question about pricing strategies, but we'll never know.
Thanks for sharing that 3D-Touch was a 3D systems discontinuation – I was not aware of that, at all, and was further mis-led by an associate who is trying to market these machines to buyers. Apparently, he has a small quantity of them and is offering them for sale and support, at $3,900 per system. It seems even more un-attractive now that you've disclosed its discontinued manufacturing status. Thanks!
JimT, you're totally welcome. I discovered that fact by Googling to find the manufacturer of 3D-Touch. Although the number of different printers has gotten large, the number of 3D printer manufacturers is still very small.
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