We have already talked about the use of 3D printing in medicine before. Today, we’ll look at the dentistry industry in more detail.
In recent years, dentistry has been the main driver of the growth of 3D printing in healthcare. Dentistry is closely intertwined with new technologies and 3D printing fits perfectly into the innovative techniques that are now being widely implemented in various aspects of dental care.
Digital dentistry or CAD/CAM dentistry is no longer something about the future. Rather, it is here with us today.
And talking about the application of 3D printing in different areas, let’s start with where to get 3D printing files. In the case of dentistry, we have one source. This source provides the highest quality models. What we are talking about is results of scanning a patient’s jaws.
Digital 3D models have been used in dentistry for a long time. However, until recently, they were not printed on 3D printers. To obtain 3D models of the jaw, there are two common methods used:
- Scanning a plaster cast using a special dental scanner,
- Scanning the patient’s jaw with an intraoral 3D scanner.
Together with this, the price of 3D printers and 3D printing materials has come down. Therefore, you can buy a 3D printer with the features that were only previously available on machines that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Today, dental 3D printers are available even for modest clinics or dental laboratories.
The cost of dental resins has also come down, the productivity of printers has increased, and the quality of the finished models has improved. So far, the main hinderance of dental 3D printing is the difficulty in mastering the technology. Mastering 3D printing takes time and requires additional training to get quality results.
Nevertheless, the implementation process is proceeding quite quickly. This is mainly due to the large number of webinars, seminars and master classes held by pioneers of dentistry 3D printing, representatives of materials and equipment manufacturers, and distributors of dental 3D scanners and 3D printers
Dentistry 3D Printing Technologies
There are several types of 3D printing technologies. The technologies differ in the way the 3D model is formed and the material from which it is made.
Liquid photopolymer printing technologies (i.e., SLA/DLP/LCD) are best suited for dentistry. These technologies allow you to create models with high detail and accuracy. On the same note, the printers have high productivity.
The essence of these technologies is that a liquid resin hardens under the influence of a light source and forms a model. The difference in the name of the technology reflects the way this process takes place. With SLA, the light is emitted using a laser, DLP – using a projector lamp, and LCD – using an LCD matrix.
Each technology has its pros and cons. We’ve previously covered these technologies in depth. Please check the following guides:
Choosing a Dental 3D Printer
If you are looking for a dental 3D printer, pay attention to several aspects. The most important ones are the area of construction, printing speed, the possibility of using different resins, a the convenience of the slicer.
Read our guide on How to Choose a Dental 3D Printer.
A slicer is a program that converts a 3D model into a print file. This file contains different information for the printer. These include how the model will be physically printed, with what layer thickness, how long will the illumination of each layer goes and, how the slicer will form the structure of the supports.
Supports are additions to a 3D model that allow it to print normally. The final print result will largely depend on the quality and number of supports. Supports can be positioned in different ways:
Before buying a printer, you can download various slicers and see which one is more intuitive for you. Ideally, you want to go for one of these best slicers for 3D printing.
3D printer manufacturers also supply their own slicers with the printers. However, the slicers are not always optimal. Depending on your preferences, you can also use a free or paid slicer, if the printer manufacturer allows it.
Dental 3D Printing Materials
When choosing a printer, pay attention to whether it will print with the material that you need for work. Not all printers are compatible with all types of resins, and vice versa. Among the many manufacturers of dental resins on the market, we recommend the following: NextDent (Holland), Detax (Germany), and HARZ Labs (Russia). We also love Formlabs resins, although they can only be used by printers from this manufacturer.
Among NextDent materials, a big breakthrough was made by the Gingiva Mask, which is an elastic and flexible material for simulating mucous membranes.
In addition, the company is renowned for its FDA and CE certified biocompatible materials.
Detax resins include the Splint and Ortho range , which have maximum transparency and are well suited for printing tires, fixing and transfer keys.
Harz Labs, a Russian manufacturer of resins, has recently appeared on the market, but has already established itself well.
Its products are optimal in terms of price/quality ratio. Therefore, we”ll use resins from this company to show examples of application of 3D printing in dentistry.
3D Printing Dental Applications
So, what can you do today with a dental 3D printer?
Surgical templates can be made from resins such as HARZ Labs Dental Yellow Clear .
This resin is odorless, durable, safe for mucous membranes, heat-resistant (up to 100°C, and up to 180°C for a short time)
Transparent Models (Aligners and Surgical Templates)
HARZ Labs Dental Clear resin is suitable for these purposes. The resin is tough, hard and safe for mucous membranes.
Temporary Crowns and Bridges
Dental Sand A1-A2 A1-A2 resin correspond to the colors on the the Vita scale. Therefore, the resin is ideal for temporary crowns and bridges. This material is odorless, safe for mucous membranes, very hard and retains its color for a long time.
Master Models for Ceramic Crowns and Bridges
To create master models for ceramic crowns and bridges, you can use burnable dental resins like HARZ Labs Dental Cast .
The materials are safe, easy to cast (melting 250-300 grams, Burnout – 30 minutes at 950 grams.), and have zero ash content. After printing on the resin model, a mold is created and the finished crown is cast.
Demo and Master Models for Thermoforming Aligners
Dental Peach resin, like most other dental resins, is a safe, biocompatible material. The resin is durable and heat resistant. It has long-term stability at 100 g, and is suitable for hot and cold curing silicones or for casting in 2-component systems. Also, it has short-term stability at 180 grams. Therefore, models can be used for shrink film.
Demo Models of the Gums
Durable, glossy and warp-resistant resins such as HARZ Labs Dental Pink are designed for making gum demos. This resin is made in a natural pink color that mimics the color of the gums.
Models with Increased Requirements for Physical and Mechanical Properties
Dental models that require increased rigidity, strength and heat resistance can be made from special reinforced resins, such as HARZ Labs Model Resin .
This resin is characterized by long term stability at 100 degrees. Therefore, it is suitable for use in silicones for cold and hot vulcanization, or for casting in 2-component systems. And short-term stability at 180 degrees can be used to shrink the film.
Cost of Dental 3D Printing
Any new technology is good if it also comes at a lower cost. So, what is the cost of dental 3D printing?
If you knowing the weight of the material required to create a particular model, you can calculate the cost of printing. For example, to create one demo model, you will need about 25g. of resin. If you are printing a surgical template and aligner model, you will need about about 15g. of resin.
Therefore, the cost of printing one model will be as follows:
- 25 grams resin (for a demo model) Dental Peach will cost you about $3.5
- 15 grams. (models for aligners) will cost about $2
- 15 grams. Dental Yellow Clear for templates will cost about $2.5
Based on this simple calculation, you can compare with the modeling methods you are using now and see how quickly you can return your investment in purchasing the equipment you need.
Post-Processing Dental Resin Prints
If you have already decided to buy a dental 3D printer, consider two additional devices: an ultrasonic cleaner and a UV exposure camera.
After printing, the models need post-processing. The first step is to rinse them in industrial alcohol to remove resin residues. This can be done manually in a bath with alcohol. However, it is best to use a special ultrasonic cleaner, which copes with this task as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Read our guide on post processing resin prints.
A UV camera is needed to re-illuminate the model after printing and give it additional strength. You can put the model in the sun or in a UV nail dryer. However, this process will take from 12 to 24 hours. Therefore, it’s better to put them in a UV camera, such as the Phrozen Cure Luna. Here, the process takes 10-15 minutes.
Other UV chambers that you can use include:
- Anycubic Wash & Cure Plus
- Elegoo Mercury X Wash & Cure
- Vevor Ultrasonic Cleaner
- Wanhao Boxman 1 UV Cure Station
- Phrozen Cure V2
Just make sure that before you buy a UV cure station, it has a large build volume to accommodate the size of your models.
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There is also the UNIZ UC-4120 ultrasonic bath that is helpful for curing larger items.
Choosing a Dental 3D printer
Determining the right 3D printer can be the most difficult task for beginners. Here, we would advise you to work with your budget as well as calculate the cost of subsequent ownership. The cost include the cost of resins, printing pans, replacement films and LCD matrices that need to be replaced.
Keep in mind that in skillful hands, the most budgetary printer works wonders. In inept hands, the most sophisticated machine will only become a beautiful addition to your laboratory or clinic.
Budget Dental 3D Printers
The Phrozen Sonic Mini is one of the best budget dental 3D printers.
The printer has the Paraled 2.0 Lite lens system, which provides uniform illumination of the models.
Elegoo Mars 3 is also a great budgetary option for miniatures, but works just well for dental applications.
Mid-Range Dental 3D Printers
In the middle segment, Phrozen 3D printers. such as the Shuffle 2019 , Shuffle XL 2019 , Shuffle 4K and Sonics reign supreme. Each model has certain advantages. Therefore, choose a printer based on your tasks, speed, detail and size of prints.
All the printers come with the proprietary lens system Paraled 2.0. The Sonic model has the Paraled 3.0, which will allow you to cope with tasks of any complexity.
Professional Dental 3D Printers
In the premium segment, the American company Formlabs leads with the Form 3 model .
Formlabs is a pioneer in 3D printing in dentistry. The company offers a complete solution consisting of a printer, FormWash wash chamber, FormCure exposure chamber , an original slicer and a wide range of resins. The resins include biocompatible resins, which were created in collaboration with NextDent.
However, Formlabs printers and material are expensive. These certainly affect the cost of the manufactured models.
And finally, the most productive and advanced system available on the market is the NextDent 5100 model , created by the American company 3DSystems. The company’s founder, Chuck Hull, invented SLA 3D printing and patented thes technology back in 1986.
The NextDent 5100 unleashes the full potential of NextDent resins. The dental 3D printer also reduces resin consumption for printing supports through high detail and unique print bed design.
Based on our many years of experience, I would advise your transition to digital dentistry by starting with a budget 3D printer. This will allow you to gain experience in dental 3D printing. After that, you can get into more advanced equipment, but with a clear understanding of your tasks and capabilities.
Not sure which dental 3D printer will be right for you? Get in touch with our vetted experts to help you select the necessary equipment.