3D printing technology has greatly advanced. Today, you will be hard-pressed to name a vertical where the technology is not applicable.
From aerospace to automotive, health to education, 3D printing is making players reimagine what is capable in their industries.
The medical industry, and in particular, the dental vertical, is one of the areas that are benefiting from 3D printing.
Thanks to 3D printers, it is not possible for dental patients to get broken teeth replaced with beautiful ones. Dental 3D printers produce accurate crowns and dentures that can be customized to the needs of every patient.
The printed teeth are close to real teeth both in terms of aesthetics and mechanical form.
In this guide, we’ll go through an overview of 3D printing application on the dental industry. We’ll also present some of the best dental 3D printers on the market.
Benefits and Limitations of Dental 3D Printers
Benefits of 3D Printers for Dental Parts
3D printers allow dental clinics to create accurate dental parts. The benefits of the printers include:
#1. Making Custom Parts
3D printers reduce the time it takes for dental clinics to create crowns and other dental parts from days to just a few hours. Apart from this, they can create perfectly-fitting custom parts depending on the needs of a patient.
The ability to make custom dental parts means less hospital visits by patients.
#2. Reducing Trial & Error
3D printers make it easy to create accurate dental parts for different patients. This means less trial and error by dentists, which improves efficiency and reduces the likelihood of patients needing multiple surgeries.
#3. Ongoing Innovation
Dental 3D printing has not yet reached its apex. The industry is constantly changing and new innovations are being unveiled every day. For example, there is the development of anti-bacterial resin that can kill bacteria on contact. Such innovations improve the overall health of patients and are welcome.
Limitations of Dental 3D Printing
While 3D printers make it easier to get dental parts, they have some limitations. These include:
#1. High Precision Requirements
Dental parts are usually placed in the mouth, which is a very small space. Therefore, the parts need to be made to precision to fit the mouths of patients. Slight mistakes made when 3D printing crowns or bridges can lead to life-longs suffering of patients.
#2. Skilled training
To successfully use dental 3D printers, clinics need to train their dentist makers. Learning how to properly set up the printer for precise printing takes time.
#3. High price
Dental 3D printers also are expensive. While conventional SLA 3D printers may cost less than $1000, they are not perfect for dental application.
Budget dental 3D printers cost in the range of $3000 while industrial capacity ones go up to tens of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the cost is not inclusive of the cost of material or maintenance.
However, as technology improves, we are bound to see more high-quality dental 3D printers at more affordable prices.
Choosing the Best 3D Printer for Dentistry
What should you keep in mind when choosing a dental 3D printer?
When it comes to choosing a dental 3D printer, the most important aspect to consider is precision. Since the dental parts you will be creating will be fitted in a patient’s mouth, they have to be customized to be of the right size and smoothness.
The high-precision requirement in dentistry means you can only use SLA and Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printers. The printer should be capable of printing the layer size you may need. The dental parts also have to be made using special dental resins.
#2. Design Software
Also, check the software that the printer uses to create 3D models. The software should be easy to learn or one that you are familiar with.
Most DLP and SLA 3D printers are compatible with the major 3D printing software.
#3. Can Handle Biocompatible Resins
Check the materials that the 3D printers can print. The best dental 3D printers are those that can work with biocompatible resins. Parts made from these resins can safely be used in the mouth.
Best 3D Printers for Dental Models & Crowns
Here are the best 3D printers for dental crowns and models:
#1. Objet Eden 260VS
Stratasys is one of the leading manufacturers of dental 3D printers on the market. One of their printers is the Objet Eden 260V, a polyjet 3D printer with a high degree of precision.
The Eden 260V has a build volume of 255 x 255 x 200mm, which is large enough to print anything that is dental related. You can use the machine to print models such as surgical guides, dental models, and other orthodontic parts.
The dental printer has an accuracy of 16 microns and works with a large range of materials, including Clear Biocompatible, VeroGlaze, VeroDentPlus, VeroDent and others.
This printer is very precise and, therefore, can be used for many applications. The printer is one in a series of dental printers by the company.
The closest printer to the Objet Eden 260VS is the Object260 Dental, a triple PolyJet 3D printer with remarkable precision.
#2. Vida HD Crown & Bridge 3D Printer
Another leading dentistry 3D printer manufacturer on the market is EnvisionTEC. This company has a wide range of machines use in the dentistry industry. For crowns, aligners, and other dental models, the company offers the Vida HD Crown & Bridge 3D printer.
The Vida HD is an easy-to-use dental 3D printer that features an open architecture. The affordable machine has a build volume of 90 x 50 x 100 mm and prints models that are highly detailed and have soft exterior surfaces. The printer can achieve a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with custom UV optics.
The Vida HD dental 3D printer suns on the Perfectory software suite, which is used to design 3D models. After design, you can print the models via Wi-Fi, USB connection or Ethernet. The printer comes ready for use and is perfect for bridges, crowns and other applications.
#3. MoonRay S
Another company that offers 3D printers for dental models is SprintRay. One of the printers by the company is the MoonRay S. The 3D printer is a high-precision model that is based on DLP technology
The MoonRay S uses laser beams to create dental prints. You can use the machine to print custom night guards, surgical guides, dental models, orthopaedic models, and more.
The dental 3D printer has a build volume of 5 x 3.2 x 8 inches and a print resolution of 100 microns. When printing, you can choose from three layer heights: 20 µm, 50 µm, and 100 µm, depending on your model.
Another printer from the company is the MoonRay D. This cheaper printer has a smaller build volume but prints models of comparable quality to the MoonRay S. You can use the MoonRay D to print RPDs, dental bridges, copings, crowns, and more.
3D Printing Application in the Dental Industry
3D printing is surely impacting the dental industry in different ways. For example, the creation of dental parts such as crowns or teeth could take days to complete. However, with dental 3D printers in the picture, the turn-around-time of such jobs has been shortened to merely hours.
This helps to improve patient satisfaction in dental clinics. For instance, a patient can get their broken teeth replaced with identical ones on in a matter of hours rather than having to wait for days.
Read on for more applications of 3D printers in the dental industry.
3D printers can also be used to print dental models or prototypes. The printers are very precise and therefore, can easily make fitting prototypes on the first try before the crowns or aligners are made.
To make dental prototypes, the teeth have to be scanned and the scan created to a 3D model using a slicing software. The dentist can then use various tools to check the accuracy of the parts before surgically implanting them into the patient’s mouth.
3D prototypes do not require special resins since they are not used on the human body. However, they shorten the trial and error that dentists traditional have to deal with when they want to carry out oral surgeries.
Crowns are used to replace parts of a broken tooth. The traditional crowning process is long and expensive, depending on the extent of the tooth damage.
3D printing makes the crowning procedure cheaper, faster and easier. The process involves scanning the broken tooth and then creating a model of the crown. The model can then be printed with a 3D printer using special dental resin.
The whole 3D printing process takes less than 30 minutes. Therefore, patients can leave the dental clinic with perfectly fitting crowns in a matter of hours rather than having to wait for days.
Dental surgeries are not always perfect. Sometimes, patients need multiple visits to the dental clinic to achieve satisfactory results.
3D printers can be used in dental surgery to reduce the number of dental visits required. These machines are highly precise, accurate and take less time to create surgical guides (models that look like aligners but have opening spots through which dentists can perform surgeries)
Together with 3D scanning, the printers can be used to create surgical guide models.
Today, dental clinics can use 3D printers to design mouth guards and aligners. The machines can print transparent aligners that are hard to notice in a matter of hours. Some patients prefer transparent aligners to braces because of their transparent look.
To 3D print an aligner, the dentist will scan the patient’s teeth using a scanner like ScanTech iReal 2S. The captured scan image will then be used to generate a 3D model of the teeth using the scanning software.
Thanks to 3D scanning and 3D printing, the probability of errors when making dental parts is significantly reduced. Therefore, patients do not have to deal with problems of adjustments or fixing the aligners to fit their teeth properly.
Dentists can print aligners in two ways:
To begin, the dentist can print the patient’s teeth exactly as it is and use a vacuum to form a plastic sheet over the printed teeth model. The plastic sheet is then converted into an aligner.
The other way is to use software to create the aligner. The 3D model is printed and fixed over the teeth of the patient as an aligner.
To accomplish the second option, a clinic needs a high-definition dental 3D printer that uses specialized dental resin.
Best Dental 3D Printer: Conclusion
3D printing has come a long way and is continuously evolving. Today, the technology is used in dentistry to reduce the time it takes for patients to get oral parts such as mouth guards, crowns, bridges and more. Dental clinics also use 3D printers to make prototypes that will guide them in surgical procedures.
When it comes to dental 3D printing, precision is the key feature to look at. From there, compatibility with the preferred software as well as recommended biocompatible resins is important.
The above are the best 3D printers for dental models, crowns, surgical models, and other dental parts. Dental clinics with the above 3D printers can make dental parts in hours instead of relying on third party companies to do so for them, which usually involves back and forth communication and ends up taking days or weeks.