Game changer of 3-D printing: Dentistry is a trendsetter

March 11, 2019

COLOGNE, Germany: New treatment modalities, new forms of teamwork, new business models—when it comes to 3-D printing, dentistry is one of the pioneers. According to a recent analysis, the global market for 3-D printing products will grow by an annual average of between 13 and 23 per cent to reach a total volume of €22.6 billion by 2030. Regarding medical technology in particular, the volume will grow to €5.59 billion by 2030.

According to experts, this development will occur in two phases: until 2020, there will be a prevailing focus on the reinvention of already existing products; after that, the focus will turn to the development of innovative materials and optimised printing processes. The printing of frames through laser-assisted processes is already established, whereas new dental frames made of plastic materials are being developed. According to market analysts, however, the possibilities regarding orthodontic appliances, prostheses, crowns, bridges, aligners and models are most promising. In terms of prophylaxis, an individualised 3-D printed dental floss holder is considered to be among the most advanced developments.

When it comes to communication, real-time images have already proven themselves. In this context, a digitally modelled smile of a patient serves as the basis for a 3-D printed silicone model. Furthermore, a robot has already successfully implanted two 3-D printed teeth into a patient. Apart from that, in order to reconstruct the original form of a patient’s jaw after oral tumour removal, it is already possible to scan the defect and manufacture a template by means of 3-D printing. This template then guides the extraction of a bone block from a different area of the body (for instance, the fibula), which is subsequently transplanted into the oral cavity.

Today, there are a wide range of different processes. These include stereolithography, which is ideal for manufacturing surgical guides owing to its precision down to the lower double-digit micrometre range. There is also the digital light processing technique, which is characterised by its high speed: owing to a one-time exposure instead of a moving laser beam, each layer of the object polymerises almost instantly. Apart from that, the Polyjet process, which closely resembles the functionalities of an office printer, can achieve extremely high precision. Within the context of both plastic and metal printing, there is the selective laser melting technique, the selective laser sintering technique and LaserCUSING.

"...many great things have already been achieved..."

At IDS 2019, the entire spectrum of these processes will be on display with a view to their already existing clinical applications. In this regard, the exhibitors will be happy to elaborate on the properties of printable materials, software solutions and services, which are tailored to the needs of dental practices and laboratories.

“Within the field of 3-D printing technologies, many great things have already been achieved that were not yet foreseeable to their full extent some years ago. It is now clear that 3-D printing is going to significantly change digital workfl ows in the long run,” said Mark Stephen Pace, Chairman of the Board of the Association of the German Dental Industry, ahead of IDS 2019. “Constant developments in the field result in new clinical, technological and economic possibilities, which in turn lead to innovative business models. There is no better place than IDS 2019 to comprehensively experience the resultant possibilities for one’s own dental practice or laboratory.”

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