While the majority of people may list their top fears as spiders, small spaces, or heights, many are also afraid of going to the dentist. There’s just something about essentially being trapped in that big, reclining chair by a hygienist wielding scary-looking (to some of us…), loud tools that send some pulses racing. That’s a big reason why 3D printing in the dental industry is such a great innovation – if dentists are able to study accurate, detailed models of their patients’ teeth, rather than keeping the patients themselves in the chair for long examinations, it can really cut down on anxiety levels. We talk a lot about patient-specific 3D printed medical models and guides helping surgeons plan for complex procedures, and the same goes for oral surgeons. 3D printer manufacturer Formlabs designs and builds professional 3D printers for the dental industry, and dental models have been 3D printed on its Form 1+ and its flagship Form 2 3D printers.
Nearly a year ago, Formlabs released its biocompatible Dental SG resin, and has experienced a lot of growth in the dental materials market. Continuing with the trend, Formlabs announced two new dental 3D printing materials today, as well as soon-to-come biocompatible materials for 3D printed dentures.
“In building the biggest professional desktop 3D printing company, we constantly look to break into promising new markets. Sales in dental 3D printing have been one of our fastest growing areas, and Formlabs products are increasingly the go-to 3D printing technologies for dental professionals,” said Formlabs CEO and co-founder Max Lobovsky.
The first new material is Dental LT Clear, a Class IIa biocompatible, long-term resin that’s perfect for retainers, splints, and other direct-printed orthodontic devices. It is highly resistant to both wear and fractures, and polishes up nicely, in order to give the final product a high level of optical transparency. Dental LT Clear will soon be available for purchase.
High-precision Dental Model Resin, however, is available now. The highly accurate resin was specifically designed to consistently print tight-fitting bridge and crown models with removable dies. It’s easy to switch from analog over to digital model production, thanks to its smooth, matte surface finish.
The Dental Model Resin went through an accuracy study, which found that the material’s die surfaces, contact points, and margins, when 3D printed on 25 micron settings, were all accurate with ± 35 microns of the digital model on over 80% of the surface points. Staying at 25 micron print settings, or moving up to 50 microns, kept the global accuracy across a full arch within ± 100 microns on over 80% of the surfaces.
Formlabs is also announcing two more Class IIa biocompatible materials, used for direct 3D printing of dentures. This is the first integrated, digital workflow for high-quality 3D printed dentures. Formlabs itself, and its partner dental labs, are currently developing workflow tests and clinical studies for the denture materials, which will be available this fall.
The new dental resins will be showcased for the first time at next week’s International Dental Show (IDS) in Germany. But these new materials aren’t the only thing Formlabs is announcing today: it’s also entered into a partnership with global 3D scanning and CAD/CAM software leader 3Shape, which provides its software and scanners to dental labs and practices. The partnership, right on the heels of Formlabs’ recent distribution agreement with Zahn Dental, will bring software integration solutions into the mix to offer the very first totally digital solution for dental professionals.
3Shape, which also teamed up with EnvisionTEC in 2015 to 3D print surgical drill guides, was founded in Copenhagen by two graduate students in 2000, and its dental industry solutions portfolio is exceptional, including the award-winning TRIOS intraoral scanner (part of the Dentrix Developer Program), X1 4-in-1 CBCT scanner, and CAD/CAM software solutions.
To start things off on the right tooth, the partnership’s first dental 3D printing workflow will make it easier and more cost-effective for dental practitioners to make oral surgical guides, by streamlining both the manufacturing workflow and the design of the actual guides themselves.
Gideon Balloch, Dental Product Lead at Formlabs, said, “The integration between the Form 2 and industry leading products from 3Shape enables dental CAD/CAM workflows so streamlined that even chairside 3D printing becomes possible. 3Shape and Formlabs share a commitment in pioneering powerful, seamless and accessible technologies. We’re excited to continue pushing new boundaries in digital dentistry together.”
Dental practitioners will soon be able to take advantage of the much faster, integrated 3Shape-Formlabs solution, and use the TRIOS intraoral scanners to scan a patient’s teeth, design surgical guides using 3Shape’s Implant Studio software, hit the ‘print’ button on Formlabs’ PreForm software, and 3D print the guides with Formlabs’ Dental SG resin. This process, which used to take weeks, now takes just a few hours, and makes it possible to complete same-day guided surgery, which is extremely beneficial and cost-effective for oral surgeons.
Dr. Daniel Whitley III, DDS, PA, said, “The Formlabs-3Shape integrated workflow streamlines my practice and allows me to do guided surgery efficiently and affordably. I can go from patient scans, to planned case, to fully manufactured guide with only a few clicks of the mouse. It really is a significant pairing of cutting-edge technology from two innovative companies.”
Continued Formlabs integrations of 3Shape’s dental software suite are currently being developed, including workflows for 3D printed dentures, splints, and orthodontics study models. These should be released throughout the coming year. You can see demos of the 3Shape-Formlabs integrated workflow at Formlabs’ IDS booth next week. Daily workshops will be available at the booth (Hall 3.1, stand L70) at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM CET. Discuss in the Formlabs forum at 3DPB.com.