3D Printing in the Dental Industry: The Future is Upon Us

As the additive manufacturing (3D printing) market continues to expand, it brings this revolutionary technological advancement to the threshold of more businesses and numerous industries. As such, the benefits of additive manufacturing are being enjoyed by dental patients across the globe.

3D Printing in the Dental Industry

The benefits of 3D printing are making digital dentistry a practical business choice for dentists and orthodontists alike. In addition to helping streamline workflow, additive manufacturing offers dental professionals quality products with low unit costs. Furthermore, due to the precision and speed with which 3D printing creates dental appliances, patients receive their properly-fitting product much quicker than ever before, with fewer visits for adjustments; thus, improving patient experiences and maintaining the practice’s excellent reputation within the community.

Types of 3D Printing

There are three additive manufacturing technologies frequently being used in dentistry: material jetting, stereolithography and digital light processing. Each of these technologies offers the accuracy and precision that is necessary for dental applications; however, quality among these three manufacturing technologies varies.

3D printing technologies, explained:

  • Material Jetting (MultiJet and PolyJet Modeling): The way this type of 3D printer creates an appliance can be compared to inkjet printing. Whereas an inkjet printer can recreate a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper, plastic or some other substrate, a 3D material jetting printer jets liquid resin onto a build tray. This process builds layer upon layer of resin to recreate an image, curing the liquid resin instantly with light.
  • Stereolithography (SLA): This form of 3D printing is extremely accurate and offers the smoothest outer finish of the additive manufacturing technologies available today. During the SLA printing process, liquid resin is used. The liquid resin is in a vat and a laser beam moves across specific areas of the resin, solidifying it as it crosses over the print area. Stereolithography printers can be used for a variety of applications as well as with numerous types of materials.
  • Digital Light Processing (DLP): Stereolithography and DLP use an identical chemical process; however, they do not use the same light source. Instead of a laser beam, DLP uses a digital projector to cure the resin. The outer surfaces of the products created using digital light processing are usually of lesser quality when compared to those created using the SLA 3D printing process.

The Progression of 3D Printing in the Dental Industry

Initially, material jetting additive manufacturing technologies were used extensively within the dental industry; however, the ability to expand is limited, the machines are expensive and quite large. In addition, a substantial amount of post-processing is required and the outer finish of the parts produced using the material jetting process tend to be inferior to the stereolithography and digital light processing technologies that are available. Furthermore, although the material jetting systems offer a high throughput, due to the expensive propriety materials necessary for creating products using this technology, material jetting is only a practical choice for a few dental applications. Therefore, the dental and orthodontic appliances created today are usually made using the SLA or DLP 3D printing technologies.

In-House Dental 3D Printing vs. Outsourcing

Before investing in any type of Digital Orthodontic Laboratory service or 3D printing machine, make sure that adopting new technology makes sense for your practice.

In-House Printing: Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)

Choosing to invest in a 3D printer means training current staff members and/or hiring additional employees, which takes time. Should a trained staff member fall ill, choose to accept a position elsewhere or retire, a new employee will need to be trained to take his or her place. During the training phase, some of the materials that are used for printing will most likely need to be discarded, which can be costly.

The quality of 3D printing machines and systems varies greatly. Taking the time to evaluate each option and judge which equipment will serve your practice best is essential.

Before investing in any type of equipment, consider:

  • Operating costs (estimate using your per-unit material cost)
  • Initial costs (including setup, software, training and machine cost)
  • Maintenance and servicing costs, which may include expensive compulsory service contracts: Some clients are required to pay 20 percent of their initial start-up costs annually

Each of the factors listed above directly impact how fast a practice can make an ROI for their in-house 3D printing equipment.

Applications and Materials – In-House 3D Printing Options

Professional additive manufacturing printers offer adaptability. The key to this adaptability lies in the use of dedicated materials. Material selection depends on the model of the printer being used. While some printers are designed to produce relatively simple orthodontic models, other 3D printers are more advanced. These advanced printers can manufacture extremely precise bridge and crown models, retainers, splints, dentures, surgical guides as well as pressable/castable restorations.

Whereas some additive manufacturing printers have limited options when it comes to materials, others offer an open system.

The difference between a ‘limited material’ and ‘open system’ 3D printer:

  • Limited material options: When materials are limited, the printer will only operate with what are referred to as ‘propriety materials.’ Propriety materials are materials that must be purchased from the printer’s manufacturer.
  • Open system: With an open system 3D printer, materials can be purchased from third party manufacturers; however, when purchasing materials from a third party, dental professionals must ensure that the product created from these materials offers the quality and precision required to be considered clinically acceptable.

Although at first glance it may seem beneficial to invest in a 3D printing machine, hiring a 3D-printing service eliminates the need to purchase equipment, train, and/or hire new employees, pay for expensive compulsory service contracts, worry about potential repair/maintenance issues and order the special materials necessary to create orthodontic appliances.

Orthodontists who do not have the resources necessary to design and fully understand the 3D printing process and the specifics of the printer should consider outsourcing for their orthodontic appliance part production. In addition to ensuring the creation of a quality product, outsourcing may minimize risk by compensating for the expertise or resources that do not exist at the practice.

Benefits of Outsourcing

By outsourcing your 3D printing to a Digital Orthodontics Laboratory, you have access to a variety of 3D printing materials and types of additive manufacturing without the need to purchase expensive industrial manufacturing equipment, find a place to put it and then train your staff members so they know how to use it. With outsourcing, you save time and money because your office just takes the intraoral scan, leaving production of the appliance up to the Digital Orthodontics Laboratory.

The OrthoDenco Difference

The skilled technicians at OrthoDenco take pride in each orthodontic appliance they create, which is why our orthodontic products are highly-revered. Orthodontists all over the Continental U.S., in the Caribbean and Latin America choose OrthoDenco as their Digital Orthodontic Laboratory because they know that we are dedicated to helping them provide each of their patients with the high-quality, comfortably-fitting orthodontic appliance that they deserve. In addition, the appliances we create are cost-effective and arrive in a timely manner.

A HIPPA-Compliant Cloud Application

Our HIPPA-compliant, state-of-the-art cloud application is specifically designed for orthodontists. Ease of use, excellent graphics and an intuitive design reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, greatly improving the workflow of our clients. In addition, this application easily integrates with many of the office management software solutions being used in orthodontic offices today. Furthermore, when uploading to the cloud, patient scans can be attached to their paperless prescriptions and once a paperless prescription is created, it remains in our cloud indefinitely; therefore, your practice never has to worry about backups or paying storage fees.

To learn more about the world of 3D printing and how it is being utilized throughout the dental industry, contact OrthoDenco Digital Orthodontic Laboratory today at 1-800-315-8829. With 35 years of experience and 400 active accounts, we have the experience, stellar reputation and innovative 3D printing equipment necessary to meet all of your additive manufacturing needs.

The Difference Between Traditional Manufacturing and 3D Printing

The use of 3D printing in the dental industry continues to rise; however, recognizing the many benefits that 3D printing offers to patients and dental practices requires comparing this method of appliance creation to the two conventional manufacturing processes, injection molding and subtractive molding.

The differences between traditional manufacturing and 3D Printing

  • Injection Molding: Although initial product prototypes can be created using the injection molding process, this type of manufacturing is typically used for mass production. The injection molding process is ideal for sequentially producing an identical piece thousands (or even millions) of times during a single manufacturing session (i.e., dental devices and sensors). Therefore, injection molding is not considered an efficient manufacturing process for creating one-of-a-kind orthodontic appliances.
  • Subtractive Manufacturing: During the subtractive manufacturing process, a 3D object is created by repeatedly cutting away from a solid block of material (i.e., composite resins, acrylic, lithium disilicate, etc.). This milling process can be performed manually or via a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. While this process is effective, it is a subtractive process; therefore, material is wasted. The dental industry has become extremely advanced in this fabrication method which is widely used in the creation of dental restorations like crowns.
  • 3D Printing (i.e., Additive Manufacturing): The 3D printing process, which is also referred to as additive manufacturing (AM), is the term used to describe a process designed to create 3-dimensional solid objects using a computer file. This method is considered additive manufacturing because the 3D object is created as the material of choice is consecutively layered. A wide range of materials can be used during additive manufacturing, including metal and plastic. Today, 3D printing is used to create a variety of custom-designed orthodontic devices, including distalizers, partial appliances, space maintainers, retainers and Elastic Mandibular Advancement (EMA) appliances. Since this is an additive process, material waste during creation is of no concern.

Creating a Dental Impression: Traditional Method vs. 3D Printing

Traditional Method

The traditional method for creating an impression of the patient’s mouth (negative mold) involves using a rubber-like material (alginate) to capture the details of his or her teeth. Once the alginate sets, it is removed from the mouth. If an error occurs while making the negative model, another impression will need to be created; thus, the process starts again. In addition, some quality issues are very hard to spot visually but can definitely have a negative impact in the fit and feel of the finished appliance.

This negative model is used to create a positive model of the patient’s teeth. The positive model is created using a material that is similar to plaster.

Needless to say, the traditional molding process is lengthy and involved for the patient and the dentist. Additionally, the materials that are used are costly and messy. Also, creating the positive model, waiting for it to harden, and clean up time make this process time-consuming.

Furthermore, if an imperfection in the negative model is not recognized immediately, the patient will need to return to the office to create another alginate impression of his or her teeth. This is inconvenient for both the orthodontist and the patient. In addition, it delays the creation of the patient’s orthodontic appliance.

3D Printing

This process creates a more pleasant experience for the patient and the dental professional performing the procedure. Although the conventional molding process requires a lot of hands-on time, attaining detailed information for the 3D printing process is relatively quick and extremely easy. With 3D printing, messy gels are not necessary because an intraoral wand is used to create a 3D image of the patient’s teeth and gums. Due to its precision, concerns related to imperfections during the molding process are essentially eliminated when 3D printing is utilized.

7 Benefits of Using 3D Technology

Due to the many benefits 3D printing offers, companies are embracing this innovative technology. When considering the orthodontic industry, 3D printing and orthodontics are a perfect fit for a variety of reasons: Seven of these reasons are listed below.

1. Fast Production

Conventional manufacturing of orthodontic appliances is a relatively slow process; however, 3D printing is fast and nimble; thus, allowing patients to receive their customized orthodontic appliances quicker than ever before, which greatly improves patient experiences.

2. High-Quality Orthodontic Products

Each orthodontic appliance created for a patient’s mouth must be custom-designed; therefore, the precision of the 3D printing process is ideal for the creation of these products. The ability to create high-resolution, unique objects is just one of the reasons that the additive manufacturing process is replacing the subtractive technique throughout the orthodontics industry.

The traditional manufacturing techniques can easily result in a faulty product, which leads to a poor-quality orthodontic appliance and an unhappy patient. The intraoral scanner provides a more accurate impression than can be attained using the conventional methods. This results in a better fitting dental appliance.
Using the innovative 3D printing method, OrthoDenco provides the unique, high-quality orthodontic appliances our clients need to keep their patients happy and protect their professional reputation.

3. A Cost-Effective Solution

When creating an impression using the conventional alginate material, there are concerns related to the proper preparation and use of the material itself as well as to the patient moving during the impression-making process. An error creating a conventional impression is costly. Furthermore, preparing the alginate material and performing the impression-making procedure itself is a much lengthier process than it is to create a digital scan.
A digital scan is much less time consuming; only taking approximately 90 seconds to create. Therefore, the dental professional performing the scan will be able to accomplish more than he or she would have if a conventional impression were being created. Instead of using the sticky alginate material, a digital scan is attained using an intraoral wand, which means the patient remains comfortable throughout the scanning process.

4. Offers Precision

Since 3D printing is such a precise manufacturing process, custom-designed orthodontic appliances are easy to create. In addition, due to its precision, with additive manufacturing orthodontists can reduce the number of visits a patient needs to be fitted for his or her appliance.

5. Has the Ability to Create an Unlimited Number of Geometrically Complex Shapes

Traditional manufacturing methods rely on cutting technologies and a variety of molds to create different shapes; however, this practice can be extremely difficult for the manufacturer and costly for the orthodontist. Using 3D printing, at OrthoDenco, we generate complex geometric shapes with ease.

6. 3D Printing Process Results in Minimal Waste

Injection and subtractive molding both result in a substantial amount of wasted resources. They both require the removal of material from a solid block, whereas 3D printing creates an orthodontic appliance through the addition of material; thus, minimizing waste.

7. When Compared to Traditional Methods, 3D Printing Reduces Anxiety for the Patient

For many patients, creating an impression with the alginate material is extremely uncomfortable because they have a sensitive gag reflex. Furthermore, dentists and orthodontists are increasing their availability to patients by replacing the time-consuming conventional impression methods with the quick, 90-second intraoral wand.

Advantages of Outsourcing

According to Smart Tech Publishing, today, nearly 90 percent of dental practices choose to have an outside source fulfill their 3D printing technology needs.

By outsourcing, dentists and orthodontists are:

  • eliminating the need to invest in their own hardware;
  • saving time by just performing the patient’s 90-second intraoral scan and then sending it to a digital dental or digital orthodontic laboratory for product production; and
  • eliminating the need to spend time training employees and/or hiring additional staff.

Orthodontists can use OrthoDenco’s 3D printing technology services as little or as much as they like.

OrthoDenco is a Digital Orthodontic Laboratory that is dedicated to providing orthodontists with the top-quality 3D printing technology services that they need in a timely manner. At OrthoDenco, we have the ability to print numerous custom-designed parts, simultaneously: For this reason, even practices that have previously invested in a 3D printing machine and trained staff members will choose OrthoDenco when multiple dental appliances need to be created.

By hiring a third-party to fabricate your dental appliances, you can focus on caring for your patients. If you would like to learn more about 3D digital printing technology, contact OrthoDenco today or call 1-800-315-8829.

Orthodontic Needs of Adults Patients

We need to keep things in perspective. In the early 80’s, the percentage of adults in an orthodontic practice was at most, 20%. Nowadays, adults can be anywhere from 40 to 60% of the patient base of any given practice throughout the United States. It’s very important, or at least, it was very important for us to be able to cater to the needs of those adult patients, which in some events are different from the needs of a patient that is in his or her teens. For instance, some adult patients may have bruxism problems. They wear down their teeth a lot faster than younger patients, just because they have that ailment, which can also lead to problems of your joint, which is also known as TMJ.

Read more

Tips For Wearing A Retainer

There are a few instances that are very common here at the lab when we get broken retainers in. Retainers can usually get crushed if you put them in your back pocket, so it is always advisable to carry your retainer case. Also, when people do not have a retainer case and are about to have dinner or eat in a social setting, they might wrap their retainer in a napkin to keep it safe from the elements, but that napkin may end up at the dumpster and their retainer may not be found after that. It’s always advisable to keep a retainer case with you at all times and perhaps at multiple places. See, all of our retainers are shipped to our practices with retainer cases. Most practices will also provide you with their own retainer cases. At the very least, you have two retainer cases that you can put at strategic places so that you’re never without one.

Read more

Personalized Retainers At OrthoDenco

Traditionally, retainers have been clear pink or clear; however, there has been a huge trend that has taken place in changing that tradition of clear and clear and pink. The reason is simple, patients nowadays need to have a little bit more other than, “You need to wear this,” in order to do something. Having the ability to personalize one’s retainer increases the likelihood of the patient wearing the retainer because now there is a connection, there is a bond. “I helped create this. I’m having it in the color I like. I have it with my pet’s picture embedded into the retainer. I have my jersey number,” or, “I have the karate school’s logo in it and it’s black because I’m a black belt.” Those are the connections that patients make with their retainers, which make them far more likely to wear their retainer.

Read more

Splint Appliances

Over the years OrthoDenco has seen an optic on the demand for splint appliances because more adult patients are entering or seeking dental treatment. We’ve been able to expand our offering when it comes to splints, we now specialize our plans based on the specific need of the patient, whether it is grinding of the teeth or if we want to level the bite or position the jaw in a certain place or not allow the patient to load up the joint. It’s very very specialized and over the years we’ve been able to develop an entire line of appliances that cater to that.

Read more

American Board of Orthodontist Models

The American Board of Orthodontist (ABO) will take digital files with any given case, however, they still require that the initial and the final models are in stone. The board, of course, has a various stringent set of rules and measurements that need to be followed for this particular models. That’s where OrthoDenco helps aspiring orthodontists to achieve that goal.

Read more

OthoDenco at Florida Association of Orthodontists Annual Meeting March 3-5

OthoDenco at Florida Association of Orthodontists Annual Meeting March 3-5

OrthoDenco is proud sponsor and attendee of the Florida Association of Orthodontists (FAO) Annual Meeting. The FAO Annual Meeting will be held at the Renaissance Tampa Hotel International Plaza, March 3-5, 2017.

The FAO Annual Meeting offers nine hours of continuing education and is a great opportunity for orthodontists to learn new techniques and check out local vendors.

To learn more about OrthoDenco contact us, or visit us during the Florida Association of Orthodontists Annual Meeting.

Orthodontic Appliances at OrthoDenco

Orthodontic Appliances at OrthoDenco

OrthoDenco is a full-service Orthodontic lab facility, at the lab we have the ability to make the simplest and most ubiquitous appliances like a retainer, to the most complex and custom made. Retainers, again, are the most common and we do those all the time, but not each case is the same. Even with retainers, a lot of times we have our doctors calling in to talk to our technicians about designing or changing the design on a particular retainer, to address a specific need. It goes the same across the board. We have other appliances that we do all the time, including functionals like the Herbst appliance, that sometimes need to be modified for a specific need or purpose. Including the age of the patient, which matters a lot in terms of the size of the mouth, and how do you lay out the design of the appliance, it can be efficient while also comfortable for the patient.

Read more

OrthoDenco’s Digital Solutions

What type of digital solutions does OrthoDenco offer clients?

itero-element-2x
Digital has revolutionized the orthodontics industry and it’s coming fast and strong. The things that we’re doing with digital today were almost un-thought of 5 years ago. We’re very pleased to be able to have to engage with our clients and their needs and have been able to find a solution to those.

Read more