Materialise (Nasdaq: MTLS) is already the established leader in 3D printing software. Now, it’s taking the interesting course of developing software for select industries. The latest is the newly announced Dental Module for Magics, meant to optimize and automate print prep for dental applications.
The Dental Module is an add-on for the widely used Magics software platform, a tool that makes it possible to repair and edit 3D models before printing. Now, dental users can access automatic print prep for commonly printed dental models, such as crowns, bridges, and partial bases.
Once they upload a CAD file, they can click a button and the tool will perform all of the necessary print preparation steps automatically. This includes labeling, nesting and support structure generation. The company claims that these tasks would typically take hours to perform manually, but can now be conducted in just a couple of minutes. Additionally, it’s possible to execute more advanced functions on processing steps via customizable processing profiles. This means that users can modify automatically generated results or save manually created parameters when necessary.
“3D printing has become well established within dentistry,” says Volker Schillen, Market Innovation Manager at Materialise. “Today, many dental labs have their own printers and create custom parts for dental restoration daily. Their next goal is optimizing the workflow so dental specialists can reduce the amount of time spent manually preparing designs to be printed. With automated tools, specialists can instead use this time on other valuable responsibilities, such as meeting with patients.”
This is an interesting way to get a new technology into the hands of customers already familiar with some digital dentistry techniques. It may be a way to gain some market penetration, perhaps directing dental labs towards other Materialise products, including its service bureau offerings.
It’s also worth noting that multiple firms are attempting to introduce greater automation to dental 3D printing. 3D Systems, for instance, has added automated nesting and stacking to its dental software, while Prodways is creating a complete workflow for automatic aligner manufacturing.
Dental labs are becoming more advanced and prominent, making for an interesting market opportunity. Meanwhile, 3D printing firms have been targeting specific verticals for their products and tailoring them in that manner. For instance, Stratasys has developed PolyJet machines for just about every segment, such as medical, dental, and industrial engineering. Formlabs and EnvisionTEC have also packaged their 3D printers for each sector. So, it’s no surprise that Materialise would do so with its own software.
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