Quarter-billion-dollar Dental Deal Bounces 3D Systems Stock

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On Tuesday, June 4, 2024, additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) announced a new dental multi-year purchase agreement through 2028 worth approximately $250 million—the largest contract in its history. This, along with other related news, sent the company’s stock up 18.5 percent in Tuesday’s after-hours trade.

The contract is meant to support indirect manufacturing process for clear aligners, a key application reliant on 3D Systems’ large format stereolithography (SLA) machines. Supporting Align Technologies for the past 25 years as a critical partner, the company has helped to establish the clear aligner market. By 3D printing thermoforming molds, Align is able to produce one million patient-specific aligners daily.

Last year, Align acquired Cubicure, a startup that develops unique materials that will enable the dental giant to begin directly manufacturing aligners, rather than rely on indirect, 3D printed molds. The news caused concern among some 3D Systems investors due to the fact that Align is one of the company’s largest customers. However, in this latest announcement, 3D Systems has stated that it will expand its technology to include the direct printing of clear aligners.

Jetted dentures. Image: 3D Systems

All of this suggests that, not only is Align going to continue to use 3D Systems’ technology for the next several years, as it is likely the source of the quarter-billion-dollar contract, but that it may partner with 3D Systems for the direct aligner production as well. In addition to directly 3D printed aligners, 3D Systems also announced that it is expanding into night guards. This will complement its multi-material, jetted, one-piece dentures, unveiled earlier this year. The dentures, which may see leading dental lab Glidewell as a manufacturer, are expected to gain FDA clearance in the second half of 2024, which will be followed with rapid commercialization.

Along with such components as trays, models, surgical guides, dentures, orthodontic splints, retainers, crowns, and bridges already being produced with 3D Systems’ NextDent line of printers and materials, directly made aligners, dentures, and night guards are meant to secure 3D Systems as a leader in the dental industry.

“3D Systems captured an industry-leading position in digital dentistry many years ago, very early in its evolution,” said Dr. Jeffrey Graves, president & CEO, 3D Systems. “We believe the dental industry is now poised for a broad-based acceleration in the adoption of additive manufacturing technology that will impact all major dental applications, from tooth alignment and protection, to repair and replacement. With our decades-long leadership in the development of unique dental materials and printing technology, 3D Systems is ideally positioned to bring this full range of new, high-volume, custom applications to market over the next few years, and we are committed to do so.”

According to the “3D Printing in Dentistry 2023: Market Study & Forecast” report from Additive Manufacturing Research, revenue for dental 3D printing grew to $4 billion in 2022, representing a whopping third of the entire AM market. By 2031, the market research firm projects $9.7B in revenues. Continuing to be a leader in what is by far the most mature 3D printing vertical is key for any AM company. It is particularly necessary for 3D Systems and other 3D printing leaders so that they can move from the growth phase to actual profitability. It is in areas like dental AM where it will be able to do so.

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