Additive Manufacturing Strategies

With Push Toward 3D Printed Aligners, Prodways Upgrades ProMaker LD 3D Printers

ST Medical Devices

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The Prodways Group (PWG: PA) out of France has upgraded its compact ProMaker LD Series of 3D printers by introducing improved resolution and what it refers to as “centrifuge” post-processing for dental aligners. To underscore the new features, the company has sold two of the new machines to a key manufacturer of orthodontic aligners in Poland.

The resolution upgrades to the ProMaker LD Series machines sees them able to now 3D print with a native resolution of 42 microns, thus improving greater control over accuracy and geometry. To achieve this, Prodways developed new 3D algorithms that make it possible to obtain object surfaces that more closely match 3D model rendering. Along with improvements in hardware and treatment processes, the enhanced software and increased resolution are the outcome of two years of R&D efforts.

Additionally, the company has released a new centrifuge for the cleaning of clear dental aligners, which also improves the recycling rate of uncured resin. The new system is a part of Prodways’ ongoing efforts to tackle the orthodontic aligners market. This includes an automated aligner printing ecosystem that the company unveiled in February 2020.

“Prodways Group is constantly innovating to help its customers increase their productivity and improve their results,” said Olivier Strebelle, chief executive officer of Prodways Group. “Our 3D Super-Resolution technology combined with a major software update provides an improved surface finish while reducing manufacturing time. This technology is complemented by centrifugal post- processing, which is much more economical and environmentally friendly than isopropanol processing. This innovative duo breathes new life into this range to better serve the most demanding sectors, requiring accuracy and speed”.

While Medgadget anticipates the global invisible aligners market as a whole to reach $8.2 billion by 2026, SmarTech Analysis believes that 3D printing will represent $317.3M of that larger market by 2028, as detailed in the Additive Manufacturing in Dentistry 2019: An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-year Forecast report.

In turn, we are seeing 3D printing and new software quickly advancing the production of dental aligners. Whereas previously, AM was used most often to 3D print patient-specific molds for the thermoforming of clear dental aligners, we are now seeing the beginnings of a shift toward 3D printing of the aligners themselves. Soon, new technologies, such as AI-driven modeling of dental aligners, automation solutions like those offered by Prodways, and new biocompatible materials will see a revolution in the way these personally-tailored dental devices are made.

Signalling the trend for Prodways was the sale of two ProMaker LD 20 3D printers to a Polish manufacturer of such dental products, Brightalign. The company had apparently already bought two other, older machines in the past.

Like most other companies in the 3D printing industry, 2020 has been a rough year financially for Prodways. However, the firm did see some recovery during the second quarter. Perhaps 3D printing aligners will be the boon that the company needs to push forward.

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