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Introduction to Dental 3D Printing
A quick search on Google for 3D dental printers will result in pages of information on the subject and countless manufacturers getting into this high-growth arena. Industry analysts estimate that the 3D dental industry will grow to over $8.4 billion by 20281, a statistic attracting trusted manufacturers and those hoping to catch the wave. After intraoral scanning, 3D printing is on the equipment wish list for many doctors, including those new to digital dentistry and those who have taken the plunge years ago. When looking at all the possible workflows that could incorporate 3D printing and the savings in time and money, it’s easy to understand why.
3D printing requires the use of digital impressions. Provided the practice has a digital intraoral scanner like the Primescan® AC or Primescan Connect™, 3D printing offers many opportunities to save time and money while delivering excellent patient care. 3D printers can print splints, night guards, surgical guides, working models, temporaries, and more*.
While the adoption of this technology is growing, there are some less desirable aspects of owning and operating a 3D printer. First, the workflow can be complex. After acquiring a digital impression, someone at the practice must design the appliance or prosthesis and then send it to the printer. While that seems straightforward, often, it is not. Sometimes operators must use a dongle or 3rd party software to import and export design files. And each workflow has its unique requirements; whether it be material selection or post-processing, there are multiple opportunities for mistakes and errors.
A few early adopters had to piecemeal their way through this territory using printers not intended for dental applications, including using nail salon curing devices to complete their workflow2. Thankfully, advancements in technology have produced better alternatives.
Material handling poses additional concerns for many clinicians. Some materials release harmful particles into the air, and the resins irritate the skin3. Other hazards can be associated with this technology, and practices must take precautions to ensure operator safety, like wearing gloves and installing vent hoods in the printing area.
Lastly, the process can be messy. Some printers require pouring resins into trays, storing unused material in dark containers, and safely disposing expired products and failed prints.
Despite the challenges, doctors are incorporating 3D printing in their offices in large numbers because the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Benefits of 3D Printing
1. Greater efficiency. Creating custom prosthetics manually takes time. Digital dentistry options are faster and require less labor and materials. Additionally, the results are reproducible and accurate4.
2. Speed. Printing a surgical guide or splint in the office saves days or weeks versus waiting for the lab to return the final product.
3. Attracting new patients. Patients expect state-of-the-art technology at their dental office and appreciate single-visit treatments.
4. Being future-ready. As material advances are introduced, the possibilities for additional in-house services will grow.
The Primeprint Difference
While there are several excellent options for 3D printers on the market today, one stand-out is Dentsply Sirona’s Primeprint™ 3D printer. This printer eliminates a number of the drawbacks associated with 3D printing. First, the workflow is fully automated. Color-coded resin matches the color-coded workflow within the design software, and the Primeprint Box transports the printed material through the post-processing workflow without direct contact from the user. This handling process not only increases operator safety but is incredibly efficient, not to mention less messy. Another bonus, Primeprint PPU (post processing unit) doesn’t require additional ventilation. Low-cost options often don’t come close to the safety, value, and efficiency associated with the Dentsply Sirona option. Lastly, the printer produces high-quality, medical-grade appliances and prosthetics consistently.
Primeprint offers clinicians the ability to leverage DS Core™ and DS Core Create™ into their workflow for greater efficiency. DS Core is a software platform for storage and HIPAA compliant file transfer. DS Core Create allows practitioners to outsource the designing of their cases to highly skilled dental technicians. If this is the preferred workflow for the practice, clicking a button within the software sends the scans for design, and the practice will receive the final print-ready file within 24 hours.
“For us dentists, Primeprint turns 3D printing into an efficient application for everyday use and that’s also great for my patients. The workflow is simplified end to end so that I can get very good results.” -Dr. Michael Skramstad, Orono Dental Care, Orono, Minnesota.
If you’re interested in learning more, please contact your Patterson representative or visit: https://www.pattersondental.com/equipment-technology/cad-cam/3d-printers/dentsply-sirona-primeprint-solution
*Not all 3D printers can produce medical-grade appliances, but Primeprint from Dentsply Sirona is an FDA-approved medical device.
Dr. Michael Skramstad is a Key Opinion Leader for Dentsply Sirona.
DS Core Create may not be available in all markets.
1 Dental 3D Printing Market – Dental News (market growth)
2 Dental 3D printing: The technology of now | Dental Economics
3 3D Printing Safety at Work | NIOSH | CDC
4 Reich S, Berndt S, Kühne CH, Herstell H. Accuracy of 3D-Printed Occlusal Devices of Different Volumes Using a
Digital Light Processing Printer Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 1576; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12031576
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