3D printers have been a revolutionary invention for many industries. The possibilities are endless when it comes to 3D printing, and the dental world has taken notice. In fact, it’s expected to provide more than 60% of dental production needs by the year 2025. Let’s discuss what they’re used for in dentistry, the different types, and their capabilities and benefits.
How Are 3D Printers Used in Dentistry?
What are 3D printers used for?
First and foremost, there are four steps in the dental 3D printing process; scan, design, print, and prepare. The scan collects a digital impression and sends it to the lab or station. The design step imports the scan into design software. It is then printed and prepared. The preparation process involves washing, drying, and post-curing the parts. 3D printers can create crown models, clear aligner models, guards, retainers, and dentures.
Types of 3D printers and features
All Smiles Family Dentistry is proud to utilize two SprintRay 3D printers. This enables a completely digital workflow and quick accurate models and dental appliances for our patients. Three of the most common 3D printing technologies are stereolithography (SLA), digital light processing (DLP), and material jetting.
SLA uses liquid resin and a laser beam over the print area. It’s incredibly accurate, easy to use, and sits at a low price (perfect for dental labs and offices).
DLP is similar to SLA, however, DLP uses a light source instead of a laser. According to SprintRay, their DLP printers are low maintenance, accurate, and very fast.
Finally, material jetting is similar to inkjet printing. However, this printer uses liquid resin and light instead of ink. This technology used to be the most common but has since gone up in cost and the machines are huge. As a result, material jetting is not the most affordable or convenient option.
Capabilities and benefits
Some of the capabilities of 3D printing in dentistry include replacing or repairing a damaged tooth, creating a model, producing crowns, bridges, caps, and dentures, and constructing tools. When it comes to replacing or repairing a damaged tooth, the mouth will be scanned with a digital wand. It is saved as a computer file and a 3D printer is able to print it. When creating an orthodontic model, patients no longer need to bite down on that awful gooey clay. Instead, they can go through the same scanning process and simply print it out. However, the 3D printing capabilities don’t end there. They can also print drill guides for dentists to practice certain procedures.
3D printing benefits everyone involved in the process. Both dentists and patients save money, and the services are quicker and more accurate. A dental laboratory can cost up to $100,000 a year versus the one-time $20,000 cost of a 3D printer. Ultimately, it has the potential to save dentists significantly over the long run. The same can be said for patients as well. With dentists saving, they don’t need to charge their patients nearly as much. It’s also much quicker than manual model-making and much more accurate. It’s overall a win-win situation for all.
How 3D printing has revolutionized the industry
All in all, 3D printing has revolutionized the dental industry. 3D printing has been able to achieve this through low-cost customization for the masses, creating clear aligners, dental implants, dentures, and an overall better experience for both dentists and patients. With 3D customization, there is now a new level of accuracy. When it comes to creating clear aligners, there are now smaller format desktop 3D printers that expand production by allowing dentists to have them in their own offices and practices. Before, manufacturing dentures the traditional way involved long and complex steps. Now with 3D printing, the process has become simplified, efficient, and cost-effective. Digital denture designs are even reusable, shareable, modifiable, and easy to reproduce.
3D printing benefits everyone, but most importantly, the patients. Patients can now see and understand the course of treatment in a whole new way. This allows for a much more seamless and anxiety-free journey. Time and money are saved with 3D printing and it has proven to be a successful transition for everyone involved.
All Smiles Family Dentistry in Omaha, NE
At All Smiles Family Dentistry, we are proud to provide high-quality care to all our patients both young and old thanks to our compassionate and experienced dental team. We offer a clean and comfortable clinic to help you feel relaxed during your visit. Contact All Smiles Family Dentist or schedule an appointment online.