3D Printing is Streamlining the Production Process and Lowering Costs for Orthodontic Aligners
Less than a month ago, Singapore-based 3D printer manufacturer Structo 3D introduced its newest dental-specific 3D printer, the DentaForm, which came only a year after the company announced its flagship dental 3D printer, the OrthoForm, and its proprietary Mask Stereolithography (MSLA) technology. Structo recently completed a case study with one of its corporate dentistry customers, FDC Dental Group, a leading dental consortium of 21 clinics in Singapore, in which the company, and its dental 3D printers, helped FDC Dental Group reduce cost and streamline the production process of its clear orthodontic aligners. This was achieved by in-sourcing the entire production process of FDC’s AAA Aligners brand.
Huub van Esbroeck, one of Structo’s founders, said, “The project with FDC was an exciting one from our perspective because it allowed us to take a holistic look at the entire digital process from scanning to manufacturing. The Structo OrthoForm’s high printing speed and throughput enables businesses like FDC to take control of their own manufacturing process, giving them an edge in the highly competitive orthodontics market.”
The case study with FDC Dental Group is a perfect example of how 3D printing technology is making a positive impact on the dental industry, where precision is really key. The group employs over 30 experienced clinicians, and has been offering a large variety of dental treatments, including cosmetic and restorative dentistry, for over 15 years. Thanks to Structo’s 3D printers, FDC’s new range of competitive, high-quality aligners will soon be introduced to all of its Singapore clinics. Before now, the group used an external aligner manufacturer for its orthodontic patients, but due to a recent increase in the number of accepted cases, FDC realized that internalizing the process might be best, in order to optimize costs, turnaround time, and overall product quality.
“Lately, lots of patients have been requesting clear aligners instead of traditional braces because of the aesthetic appeal and ease of use. With the growing volume in cases, we saw the opportunity to start managing the process ourselves in-house to better control the quality of the aligners and reduce manufacturing cost,” explained Dr. N. Aizat, FDC Dental Group’s CEO and Group Clinical Director. “We commissioned Structo to supply us with their dental 3D printers and materials, and to set up the entire production line in our facility.”
Having worn braces for three years, I can wholeheartedly agree that aligners seem to be a better option, at least for people who may be embarrassed to be wearing orthodontia. According to FDC Dental Group, its customized, clear aligners are nearly invisible, while offering comfort and ease of removal for when patients are eating, and brushing or flossing their teeth.
By in-sourcing its manufacturing process with Structo’s assistance, and 3D printers, FDC has cut the turnaround time for its AAA Aligners from a month to just two weeks from the time its dentists receive a case. Structo’s OrthoForm 3D printer works at an extremely high rate of speed: it can print up to 30 dental models in just an hour and a half, so it’s safe to say that 3D printed orthodontic aligners will see some quick production. This faster delivery of aligners to patients gives the product a big edge over competing orthodontic solutions.
Dr. Aizat said, “So far, the take-up rate for AAA Aligners have been very encouraging and we will be rolling out the AAA program to all our 21 clinics islandwide.”
But perhaps even more impressive than the faster production rate is the overall cost savings. FDC Dental Group has been able to achieve up to 50% cost savings per patient. In order to make its clear AAA Aligners more accessible to a broader demographic, this cost savings will be shared with the end user.
van Esbroeck said, “Structo’s mission is to empower businesses like FDC to deliver superior products with the help of digital dentistry and our application-specific solutions. We believe the speed of our printers will allow us to spearhead the widespread adoption of digital dentistry and we are glad we are able to help Dr. Aizat and the entire team at FDC to realise the benefits of a full digital workflow.”
Structo has also created its own photopolymer materials, which are specifically created for each use-case in a variety of 3D dental printing applications. Discuss in the Structo 3D forum at 3DPB.com.
[Editor’s note, March 2018: Since publication, Dr. Aizat has left FDC and is no longer affiliated with the company.]
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