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Interview: “We are positioned to set the standard in digital dentistry”

3D Systems debuted their Figure 4 platform at IDS 2017. The platform facilitates the printing of 40 high-quality crowns in fewer than 15 minutes. (Photograph: 3D Systems Corporation)
Brendan Day, DTI

Brendan Day, DTI

Mon. 3. April 2017


With its recent acquisition of NextDent, 3D Systems signalled its intention to disrupt the dental industry—and it has not taken long to do so. The International Dental Show (IDS) at Cologne in Germany saw the company debut its Figure 4 digital production platform, which is designed to mass-produce customisable dental parts with maximal efficiency in time, money and material. Dental Tribune International sat down with Vyomesh Joshi, President and CEO of 3D Systems, at IDS to talk about the company’s aims with this revolutionary product and its expectations of the dental industry.

What prompted 3D Systems to acquire NextDent?
In dentistry, the use of 3-D printers is an area that is continually growing. 3D Systems has more than 30 years of experience in 3-D printing with over 1,000 patents, and the technology that we have allows us to print 40 crowns in fewer than 15 minutes—less time than it takes many milling solutions to produce a single crown. Clearly, we have the technological capabilities for industry-leading 3-D printing, and with our acquisition of NextDent, we now have the materials necessary to transform the industry.

With this increase in manufacturing speed, is it difficult to maintain the same level of quality?
The quality is typically as good, if not better than before. We are experts in high-accuracy and high-resolution printers, and with the Figure 4 platform, we are able to present a product that is faster and that can do many more indications. It can make partial and complete dentures, surgical guides and more. Using NextDent’s 12 distinctly different clinical materials and Figure 4, we can produce at up to ten times the speed of conventional methods. For a laboratory or a dentist, this diversity is a great feature to have.

The other thing is that the total cost of operating Figure 4 is now ten times lower for certain dental indications. When one factors in its reduction of material waste, it becomes clear that it offers unparalleled versatility, productivity and effectiveness. We are extremely excited about the potential of this platform.

Why is dentistry an ideal field for additive manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing is all about mass customisation, and the dental industry presents a tremendous need for this kind of technology. Thus, applications in dentistry offer a great opportunity for 3D Systems.

We already have excellent customers and experience in the dental industry. For example, Align Technology uses our stereolithographic printers as an accurate and productive part of its manufacturing workflow to produce approximately 175,000 moulds per day for its clear aligner system. We also have a strong presence and understanding of the European dental market, which has been bolstered by our acquisition of Vertex-Dental and NextDent. We believe we are positioned to set the standard in digital dentistry, and we are glad to have been able to demonstrate this here at IDS.

Mr Joshi, thank you very much for the interview.

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