A 3D-printed midsole

The projected revenue increase demonstrates the continued adoption of additive manufacturing processes by footwear manufacturers. 3D printers have been available since the 1980s. However, many industries have only recently integrated 3D printing solutions into their production processes, as significant advances in machines, material, and software are not only meeting industry requirements but also enabling greater innovation with better performance production parts. Today many footwear companies use 3D printers to optimize design, prototyping, and full production.

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Two common 3D printing processes are fused deposition modeling (FDM) and digital light processing (DLP). Each of these 3D printing processes is best suited to specific product applications. Anyone interested in using 3D printing for their next product should understand the differences between FDM vs. DLP 3D printing. DLP processes and systems enable the manufacturing of products like dental appliances, medical devices, and footwear. With greater speed, better surface finishing, and isotropic material properties DLP may be a better choice for companies looking to decrease product development time, de-risk manufacturing operations, and create unique business models.

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3D printed dental surgical guide

3D printing dentistry solutions make it easier to produce custom products like dental prosthetics, implants, and surgical equipment such as guides. Surgical guides are becoming a standard tool to assist implant procedures, reduce surgery duration, and reduce the risk of complications. With advanced 3D printing systems, dental surgical guides are more affordable and accurate than ones made with traditional processes.

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Clear aligners

The traditional method used to produce oral devices is time-consuming and inconvenient for patients. It is a multi-appointment process that involves creating manual, oral impressions and outsourcing them to a dental lab for fabrication. Device turnaround can take 2 to 4 weeks to complete. Dentists can accelerate the process by switching to a digital workflow that utilizes an intraoral scanner and 3D printer. Intraoral scanners eliminate the need for manual, oral impressions, and 3D printers produce oral devices more quickly than conventional processes.

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Advanced materials used in 3D printing

Many manufacturers’ first exposure to 3D printing was through fused deposition modeling, in which plastic filaments extrude through a nozzle during printing. Materials used in 3D printing were formerly confined to plastics and weak metal alloys that could be extruded at low temperatures. The scope of 3D-printable materials has grown considerably to include various metals, polymers, organic materials, ceramics, and even biological materials.

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