Interview: “We definitely passed a tipping point for 3-D printers”
Powered by 3D Systems’ proprietary Figure 4 technology, the NextDent 5100 is a high-speed dental 3-D printer designed to save time for both patient and practitioner. Dental Tribune International spoke with Rik Jacobs, dental vice president and general manager at 3D Systems; Sebastiaan Cornelissen, CEO of Cordent and Core3dcentres; and Dr Michael Scherer, an American prosthodontist, about the NextDent 5100 and future trends in dentistry.
Is the NextDent 5100 designed specifically with the dental lab in mind, or can it be used in a dental practice as well?
Rik Jacobs: Essentially, I designed this product to be used by both labs and clinicians with success.
Sebastiaan Cornelissen: We found that the most important thing was to have a system that can incorporate multiple machines and multiple materials if necessary. This flexibility was the main feature that we were looking for, and the NextDent 5100 delivers this.
Dr Michael Scherer: For a clinician like myself, there’s been an embrace of 3-D printing in recent years. However, it’s always been the lower-cost models that have been prioritised. With the multiple materials and extremely fast printing that the NextDent 5100 offers, I think that clinicians can now offer a realistic chairside solution for patients.
What are the benefits of the NextDent 5100 for dental labs?
Cornelissen: In the dental lab, you have similar time pressure issues to a dental practice. You need to be able to produce things fast, in multiple colours and often in large quantities. To be frank, these are all easily achievable with this printer.
Often, a dentist will send some scans to us so that we can quickly create a smile design for the dentist to print a mock-up of in his or her office. Though we are based in the Netherlands and have clinicians working with us from Germany, the NextDent 5100 allows for this entire procedure to be conducted in less than 2 hours.
What has the feedback been since the launch of this printer? What have customers most liked about it?
Jacobs: What was important for us, besides what these gentlemen have already mentioned, was that the printer have a high level of accuracy. With ten years of experience in the 3-D dental printing industry, I’ve learnt that a lot of printers work fine in the beginning but lose their accuracy over time. When 3D Systems acquired my company, we decided to make sure that our printer would work without issue, day in and day out, for at least three years. Flexibility, speed, accuracy and, ultimately, affordability of the machine and the materials—these, along with training and ongoing support from our outstanding resellers, are the foundations of the NextDent 5100.
We got a lot of feedback from users of this printer, like Michael and Sebastiaan, and thankfully, our R & D team in San Diego really listened to what they asked for, what the market asked for. I think this is what our company should always do: listen carefully to our customers and deliver what they need and want.
Are software updates included?
Jacobs: Automatically. As long as the user is connected to the Internet, he or she will be able to have the latest updates automatically downloaded to the printer.
It’s predicted that, within three to five years, more than 50 per cent of dental labs globally will have an in-house 3-D printer. What, in your opinion, is driving this growth?
Jacobs: Well in 2018, we definitely passed a tipping point for 3-D printers here at 3D Systems. Thanks to easier registration, certification, improved ease of use, and a range of other factors, it has become much more achievable to integrate a 3-D printer into one’s daily workflow.
Scherer: Clinicians are now expecting dental labs to be digital and to have printing capabilities. It’s no longer a case of whether a lab will take your files, but rather if they print themselves or still outsource it. That’s how fast 3-D printing has grown in dentistry.