Game-changing innovations are arriving at an extraordinary pace in digital dentistry

Game-changing innovations are arriving at an extraordinary pace in digital dentistry.The clear plastic device illustrated above represents a new way of manufacturing a dental splint. Splints are worn to protect teeth against grinding during sleep or to produce an orthodontic effect. The novelty of this splint is that it was 3D printed in a biocompatible material certified for up to 12 months in the mouth. Such materials have become commercially available recently and are transforming the way dental devices are being made.

Welcome to the world of digital dentistry, where game-changing innovations are arriving at an extraordinary pace. Dentistry represents a significant opportunity to 3D printer manufacturers like Asiga due to its sheer size. BCC Research reports that by 2019 the global dental market will grow to $55 billion led largely by advances in digital technology and CAD/CAM equipment.

Dental laboratories are no strangers to digital manufacturing. For more than a decade they have been 3D scanning dental models and using specialised CAD software to design crown and bridge restorations. Milling has traditionally been the preferred method of production as it can be used to shape zirconia, one of the hardest dental ceramics available. 3D printing is becoming more prevalent as the industry moves towards fully digital workflows.

This transition is being facilitated by the advent of intraoral scanners. “We have seen a rapid take-up of our intra oral scanner technology by dentists, implantologists, prosthedontists and orthodontists” explains Flemming Thorup, president and CEO of 3Shape, a developer of 3D scanning technology and design software based in Denmark. “The 3D files are transferred to dental laboratories or used in the dental practice to design and produce restorations.”

With the industry going digital there is greater demand for output machines. In this respect there are several advantages of 3D printing over milling.

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