Orthodontists and dental labs are using 3D printing technology to improve the quality of dental products. Dental devices like night guards, retainers, and surgical guides are custom and need to accurately fit the patient’s mouth. Traditionally, appliance manufacturers utilized labor-intensive manual methods to create custom products. It required orthodontists to create patient molds, ship them to a lab, and wait for weeks as a tech completes a multi-step production process. Today, 3D printing offers a more efficient and accurate alternative.
3D printers allow dental manufacturing companies to digitalize their workflows, eliminating labor steps and accelerating device turnaround times. The combination of powerful software, machines, and specialized materials reduces the possibility of errors and improves accuracy. With more efficient processes, the dental 3D printing solution also provides cost savings and better customer service.
The following details how 3D printing can support your dental manufacturing company:
Fast Turnaround Times and Efficient Workflows
3D printer-equipped digital workflows produce dental appliances at a faster rate than other methods. Conventional production processes can take weeks to complete with multiple steps and significant hands-on work. Digital workflows reduce manual work involved in dental manufacturing. Some companies optimize each element of a 3D printing solution (i.e., the printer, software, and materials) to make each production stage as efficient as possible, directly producing finished products that require little post-processing before ready for use.
- Software: Cutting-edge applications like LuxCreo’s LuxDental allow techs to complete device designs at a rapid pace. Digital workflows streamline appliance production by automatically generating models and their support structures using intraoral scans rather than physical molds.
- Hardware: Industrial 3D printers create appliances faster than conventional methods or CNC machining. Crowns, for example, can take weeks to make with traditional processes. CNC machines reduce crown production time to a few days but the systems still require significant set-up times. 3D printing dental appliances are much easier, providing faster turnaround times.
- Materials: The latest 3D-printable resins with new resin-printing techniques require less post-processing. Older 3D printing solutions require hours of buffing and polishing of the dental appliance to achieve the correct color and surface texture. Now, materials like LuxCreo’s DNG nightguard resin allow techs to directly print clear devices with minimal post-processing.
The combination of the leading software, 3D printing machines, and materials provides dental manufacturers with a way to simplify production, improve the dental product, and increase output. For example, the Lux 3D printing solutions are capable of manufacturing:
- 6 – 8 clear aligners/night guards in 30 minutes
- 12 – 16 surgical guides in 45 minutes
- 17 – 20 dental models in 35 minutes
3D printers excel at creating consistent highly accurate objects. In a field like dentistry, it is essential to create devices that are accurate. Conventional workflows produce accurate parts with oral impressions and manual, hands-on work, such as thermoforming. With a digital workflow, companies can improve accuracy while reducing labor steps.
3D printers replace handmade dental appliances with directly 3D printed products that leverage detailed digital oral scans. A tech imports the oral scan into a program like LuxDental to generate a printable file 3D printer. After printing, the tech removes the device from the build platform and performs a few simple post-processing steps, including:
- Washing: Two minutes with LuxCreo technology vs. 10+ minutes with other 3D printing solutions
- Curing: Four minutes with LuxCreo technology vs. 20+ minutes with other 3D printing solutions
- Buffing: Around one minute with LuxCreo technology vs. 15+ minutes with other 3D printing solutions
Practices and labs can implement digital workflows at a much faster rate than traditional processes, as well as require less specialized labor skills. With fewer manual steps, it minimizes the risk of error and allows for greater overall output. With large platform 3D printers, dental production companies can create multiple devices in a single batch without sacrificing accuracy.
For instance, surgical guides inherently feature complex designs. The surgical guides need to lead the surgeon’s instruments to the necessary location with great accuracy. Surgical guides help reduce both the risk of complications and the overall operation time.
Cutting-edge printing solutions like Lux 3D allow dental production companies to produce over a dozen surgical guides within an hour. The design software and industrial 3D printer can create precise holes at any angle. Device manufacturers leverage these qualities to maximize the number of surgical guides per batch. With streamlined post-processing, techs can make dozens of surgical guides per day using a single 3D printer.
Digital workflows enable dental manufacturers to save costs by increasing efficiency. The simplicity of digital dentistry allows technicians to make more parts in fewer steps. By reducing the number of production steps, companies save money on labor.
Fewer production and manual steps also reduce product variability. The technology used in modern 3D printing solutions ensures a high level of accuracy with each device. This consistency reduces the need for reprints, lowering material costs.
Improve Your Dental Manufacturing Company with LuxCreo Technology
3D printing allows companies to realize the promise of digital dentistry. By reducing labor needs, improving accuracy, minimizing the risk of errors, and increasing output with faster turnaround times, 3D printers empower dental manufacturing companies to save costs and improve customer service. For orthodontists that invest in onsite 3D printing, it can also enable new business models such as same-day service.
To help dental manufacturers embrace additive manufacturing, LuxCreo offers comprehensive printing solutions built explicitly for dental applications. Utilizing industrial-strength hardware, powerful software, and a suite of innovative resins, LuxCreo’s dental solutions provide manufacturers with the tools they need to improve their day-to-day operations. Contact us today to get started.