Formlabs is serious about both the medical and dental additive manufacturing (AM) markets. In trying to push its integrated product offering into dental, it joins a very competitive market estimated to be worth $4 billion now and $9.7 billion in 2031. Medical, on the other hand, is underserved, especially by vat polymerization products, and Formlabs is performing pioneering work in that space. Now, the company has announced two new resins, Dental LT Comfort Resin and BioMed Durable Resin, for these markets.
“At Formlabs, we are continuously empowering our customers to push the boundaries in 3D printing. With the release of these two new materials, we’re proud to expand our material library and enable dental and healthcare professionals and engineers to push the boundaries of device development,” said Guillaume Bailliard, President of Healthcare at Formlabs.
3D Printing for Night Guards and Bleaching Trays
Dental LT Comfort Resin is a flexible material designed for night guards and bleaching trays. These kinds of products are increasingly being 3D printed in labs and even in many dentists offices. The material has been optimized for reduced post-processing, long-term use, and patient comfort.
In addition to accelerating the adoption of 3D printing in-office, and capturing more margin for Formlabs, the new material will enable patients to obtain treatment more quickly through in-office printing. Formlabs also hopes that this resin will lead to fewer patient visits for the same treatment, which would increase patient comfort while allowing dentists to make more appointments, and hence more money. The company claims that the cost of performing implants in-office is $5 to $7, while the outsourced implants cost between $100 to $200, while lead times would be reduced to three hours from one to seven days. The material is flexible and transparent, which means that Formlabs is inching closer to the huge market for clear aligners.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is something that affects 30 percent of people, causing more significant problems in 10 percent. It can harm your teeth or cause pains in the jaw, head, or neck. Its prevalence and the resulting pain mean that many people are very motivated to solve the problem. But, strangely it doesn’t get the attention and press that teeth whitening or other teeth treatments do.
Dental splints, also called mouth guards or occlusal splints, represent a potentially huge 3D printing application that has not been given sufficient attention. Similar to sports guards and clear aligners, these are meant to be worn at night by people who grind their teeth or whose jaws and teeth need additional protection. By making custom guards, 3D printing has a real role to play in this market, as well as the adjacent custom sports guards market, which is also underserved and has great potential.
Formlabs’ closed system approach is ideal for dental, as it promotes ease-of-use. This kind of specialized material can really expand the company’s presence in the market.
“When I had the opportunity to beta-test the Dental LT Comfort from Formlabs Dental, I was amazed. The material’s pre-polished appearance and exceptional translucency right after printing significantly reduced post-processing time. Furthermore, I was impressed by its fracture resistance and flexibility, which ensure optimal comfort, making it the perfect choice for dental splints,” said Stephan Kreimer, Director of Kreimer Dentallabor GmbH & Co. KG.
3D Printed Medical Devices
The BioMed Durable Resin is a clear, biocompatible material optimized for abrasion- and impact-resistance, especially in medical devices, patient-specific components, devices, and tools. It is a USP Class VI material, manufactured in an FDA-registered, ISO 13485 facility and approved for long-term skin contact. The company thinks that it is especially good for personalized medical devices, ¨and customizable surgical instruments, such as medical devices that can be hit with a surgical mallet or shaken with a cutting saw.” That’s a far cry from the delicate flower period in stereolithography, when every component was photopolymer eggshell.
“We see Biomed Durable Resin as an ideal platform for the printing of single-use, patient-specific surgical instrumentation. The increased mechanical properties provide more design flexibility and increased indications while maintaining the biological properties required for reliably producing the best surgical results,” said Mauricio Toro CEO of TechFit.
Medical 3D printing for patient-specific implants with stereolithography (SLA) has been going on since the 1990s. So far, it has been a highly specialized affair, used in cranio-maxillofacial surgeries. Formlabs could very well democratize SLA’s use in the production of medical devices. I’m reluctant about long-term use of photopolymers for body applications. We need to be very careful in the procedures and protocols of curing and handling parts in these applications and for on-skin use more generally.
For Formlabs, dental and medical can really lead to tens of thousands of very profitable long-term users, who would be more than happy to keep paying for the company’s proprietary resins for as long as they have the machines. Moreover, this market will be much more resistant to lower-priced resins and 3D printers than many other markets. This will be an expanding sector that could be very profitable for the firm for many years to come.
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