The applications for 3D printing are constantly widening, with machine makers continuously improving the achievable part quality, finish and availability of their materials. The use of additive manufacturing in the dental sector was previously unfeasible for the majority of clinics and labs; however, a recent convergence of such technologies as well as the introduction of biocompatible materials now makes 3D printing a real alternative to traditional methods.
ITERATE collaborated with a local denture lab to explore how intraoral scanning, additive manufacturing and digital file sharing could benefit denture production. The laboratory provided a partial denture that had been crafted using traditional methods. The technical challenge was to create a product of similar quality within a quicker time-frame by optimising the workflow through leveraging these technologies.
“The team at ITERATE are exceptional and have solid engineering design skills that are respected in the UK and internationally. I cannot recommend them more highly” Dr Luke Sanger, Managing Director at Blossom Group
In order to achieve this, we identified suitable CAD software and tooth libraries that would allow us to develop efficient and repeatable production techniques including: the scanning process; CAD production; print settings; and finishing methods. Once established, we produced several development prototypes using mutiple 3D printing technologies. This allowed us to further optimise the production process before producing final models in denture and tooth coloured biocompatible resins, which we identified as being realistic and suitable for dental use.
The final outcome consisted of a highly flexible and repeatable digital workflow, and a realistic denture model approved as being equal quality to traditional alternatives. This case study has since gained interest from several local dentists and dental laboratories, who have expressed an interest in other dental products that can be produced in this way.