According to the “Additive Manufacturing in Dentistry 2021” report by SmarTech Analysis, while the dental industry has been seen as one of the more stable, fast-growing AM applications in recent years, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 caused a major negative impact, mainly because of government restrictions that either discouraged, or prohibited, dental care of a non-emergency basis. I can attest to this, as my dentist’s office called me this summer to reschedule my annual cleaning to the fall for this exact reason. But, all is not lost, and the SmarTech market study reflects “a resilient market opportunity” and a “quick bounce-back recovery already well underway,” with projected revenues of up to $3.1 billion in 2021—higher than 2019 numbers.
We’re already seeing the recovery start to unfold in real time. This month, German professional and industrial 3D printer manufacturer Rapid Shape, which makes 3D printing systems for the jewelry and hearing aid industries in addition to dental, announced the market release of its RS Inline system, which is meant to help users automate the high volume 3D printing of their clear aligner dental models.
The RS Inline was already installed during the year by a number of major international customers, and Rapid Shape has received “excellent feedback” from these customers, according to a press release. The installations obviously went very well, as the automated, open material system is now available for the whole market. The system includes several of the necessary processing steps for producing dental models, including a cleaning process to regain material, which makes everything easier for dental labs, in addition to lowering the production cost of these models.
A single production line can control up to five D100+ 3D printers at the same time, each of which can print an average amount of 300 models over an eight hour shift. So, in a whole day, the RS Inline system, with its DLP force-feedback technology, is able to print more than 4,000 total clear aligner models. This is possible because of the system’s end-to-end automation: it starts with data processing, and then the resin printer automatically ejects the completed models, and starts the next job within two minutes.
All of the system’s machine entities are connected and server-controlled by the Rapid Shape Production Control (RSPC) application. This determines which printer has the capacity for the next job, and then automatically adds it to the job queue. To guarantee constant efficiency, as well as maximum capacity, the RSPC traces each model with all the production parameters, including the material batch, in order to “ensure MDR.”
“We know how time-consuming job creation and the control of production processes are,” said Karsten Müller, Director of Sales at Rapid Shape. “That‘s why the RSPC is the perfect solution to automate, track and monitor production.”
RS Inline is powerful, with a small footprint, and features a flexible design, which makes it possible to adapt the system and increase or decrease the machine setup to different requirements from different customers, like production facilities and dental labs. It’s also an open material system, which allows for a local resin supply, though Rapid Shape also offers its own materials, as well as validated partner materials.
Rapid Shape’s RS Inline system also offers post-processing features, so the cycle doesn’t stop once the model is ejected. The RS clean-C centrifuge makes post-processing much simpler, and also doesn’t require any cleaning chemicals. Once the part is complete, a conveyor carries it right into the centrifuge, which then spins it at a high speed to deliver a clean, 3D printed dental model.
“This not only saves the expensive and less ecological disposal that is caused by isopropanol, but also resin costs can be reduced by up to 15% through recovery that can be reused in the printing process,” said Andreas Schultheiss, the CEO of Rapid Shape.
The scalable RS Inline system is now available on the full market.
(Source: Manufactur3D Magazine / Images: Rapid Shape)
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