3D Systems Unveils Multi-Material, Completely 3D Printed Dentures

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As the most mature additive manufacturing (AM) market segment, the dental industry shows us just how much progress the technology has had in disrupting traditional products and workflows. The latest disruptive demonstration comes from 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD), which announced the launch of its first-ever 3D printed, multi-material, one-piece dentures at LMT Lab Day, February 22-24, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

NextDent Jet Denture Teeth and Denture Base materials are designed to produce monolithic dental prosthetics for teeth and gums that are durable and aesthetically pleasing for long-wear use. While the former is meant to mimic tooth rigidity and appearance, the base formulation is engineered to absorb impact. Altogether, dentures made with these materials should provide high break resistance.

In the past, dentures featuring 3D printed elements were made up of a base and teeth produced separately and mechanically attached using screw-based fixtures. However, developments in the inkjet space have led to the current state of the art, in which the entire prosthetic can be 3D printed at once, ultimately reducing overall production time and labor. This, in turn, saves money and expedites delivery for the item to patients.

“With each innovation to our digital dentistry portfolio, 3D Systems has been able to help our customers transform the devices they deliver, and how clinicians deliver patient care,” said Chuck Stapleton, vice president & general manager, dental, 3D Systems. “As we announce our jetted denture solution today, I’m proud that we are once again delivering a truly unique offering to the market. We’ve combined innovation in materials and 3D printing, with software, post-processing, and applications expertise into our monolithic jetted denture solution, designed for high-volume production with unparalleled accuracy, repeatability, and lower total cost of operation. I look forward to seeing this solution change the trajectory of denture production, not only over the coming months but in the years to follow.”

Stratasys first unveiled its own monolithic denture product, TrueDent, at this time last year; however, 3D Systems is calling its NextDent solution a “first to market”, suggesting that Stratasys’s counterpart has yet to be fully implemented. In the case of 3D Systems, the AM pioneer previewed the product to select customers, including Glidewell. The world’s largest maker of restorative dental devices and a significant user of 3D printing, Glidewell aims to execute the solution this year, after 510(k) clearance from the United States Food & Drug Administration is achieved sometime in the second half of 2024.

Glidewell CEO Stephenie Goddard said of the product, “As a long-time 3D Systems customer, Glidewell continues to be impressed by the company’s leadership in digital dentistry. The capabilities presented by the new jetted denture solution are unmatched in the industry. The combination of 3D Systems’ high-speed printing technology and its unique materials deliver dentures with superior durability and aesthetics. I’m looking forward to our implementation of this solution later this year, and the benefits it will deliver not only for our business but for our customers and their patients.”

Because of the extent to which the $4 billion dental 3D printing segment has developed, LMT Lab Day can often give us a glimpse into the future of AM overall. Monolithic dentures, for instance, reveal that we aren’t that far from directly 3D printing functional multi-material parts in other areas. At Additive Manufacturing Strategies 2024, Inkbit and Makelab demonstrated this by 3D printing dual-material wireless phone chargers. Though the electronics were manually incorporated into the end device, Inkbit’s machine vision technology could automate this process down the line.

Meanwhile, the significant automation being introduced by other AM companies in the dental sector at the event this year foreshadow the types of workflows that may be employed for products in other industries. If the divinations of the Oracle of Lab Day are any indication, similar outcomes will be achieved in 3D printing more broadly and at a faster pace, now that the dental segment has laid the groundwork.

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