If there’s an industry that could be completely revolutionised by 3D printing, that industry is dentistry.
Last year, The Guardian covered an interesting story about a group of researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who were working on the creation of 3D printed teeth made from antimicrobial plastic. In lab tests, the researchers found that their special material – comprised of dental resin polymer and ammonium salts – killed 99% of the bacteria found in the human mouth; a serious breakthrough. And in the same year, 3D printing company Stratasys unveiled a 3D printer that can print out realistic teeth, gum and nerve models.
However, it isn’t specialist dental printers and futuristic research that’s excited us the most about 3D printing and dentistry. It’s what can be achieved right now with high-end desktop 3D printers like the new Formlabs Form 2.
With the Form 2, you can 3D print surgical guides in a matter of hours.
The Form 2 is the perfect 3D printer for dentists, because it 3D prints accurate models from a tray of UV-curing resin down to a layer height of 0.025mm (25 micron). This level of detail is exceptional, however the ability to print at 0.2mm (200 micron) means that you can effectively print detailed models in just hours.
The most obvious application for the Form 2 in a dentistry environment is that by combining oral scanning and 3D printing, a dentist can fabricate their own surgical guides and models in-house in a matter of hours, versus the weeks it usually takes to have these produced by a laboratory. Imagine being able to scan a patient’s mouth, create an STL file, send that file to print and have a lifelike model of the patient’s mouth to practice on that very same day. For challenging surgeries and in terms of training and development, this is invaluable. But you can actually go further than this, by creating high quality and accurate prints from oral scan data of retainers and aligners and crowns and bridges.
Directly cast your 3D print into metal or lithium disilicate for prosthetic restorations.
Of course, you could reliably print 3D surgical guides, retainers and aligners and crowns and bridges with any old FFF 3D printer if you wanted to. However, the Formlabs Form 2 SLA printer shines above all other 3D printers thanks to its library of standard and functional resins that allow you to print for various dental applications. An example being Castable Resin, which allows you to directly cast your 3D print into metal or lithium disilicate for dental prosthetic restorations.
“3D printing makes our tasks easier”
A case study published by Formlabs this month illustrates our point. Dr. Michael Scherer uses 3D printing to create his own surgical guides. He also uses it to create his own bleaching trays and bite guards. Dr. Scherer explains:
“The possibilities of 3D printing in dentistry is limitless. In dentistry right now, digital technology is really exciting. Gone are the days of the old fashioned, gooey messy impression. Having a 3D printer in my practice has literally changed everything I do.” Dr. Scherer goes on to conclude, “the amazing thing is we can take a technology like an in-office 3D printer and it makes our tasks easier.” You can check out the case study for yourself below (it’s a very interesting watch):
In the case study it is revealed that the cost per guide using the Form 2 is $13 – $15 versus the $250 – $750 when lab fabricated and versus the $25 – $50 when sent off to be 3D printed by someone else. And in another case study in the same file, Dr. Sean Holliday printed an average of 20 retainers a week and saw a return on investment within 3 months. If you take this return on investment at face value, then not only does the Formlabs Form 2 have the potential to change the way you approach dentistry, but it has the potential to do so while meeting your budgets and saving your practice money.
To find out more about the Formlabs Form 2 3D printer and how it could revolutionise your practice or change the way you work, or for help getting started with 3D printing, phone our team today on 01765 540 115.