3D printing is a technology transforming almost every industry. From fashion to aircrafts, space exploration to medicine, this technology is causing major improvements to many different manufacturing processes. In the past, the technology didn’t seem to be quite as flexible. In some respects, it was seen as luxurious splurge for big, rich, and fancy companies. Alternatively, it was viewed as geeky distraction, a slow and boring way of producing rubbish and tatt, taking a year to make a full chess set.
Nowadays, it’s causing a revolution in every field of work. It is allowing companies to explore a speedier, more accurate form of manufacturing that traditional methods, helping them to speed up productions and become more efficient and effective businesses. Of course, every technology has the potential to be used for harm. There is a growing concern for example over 3D printed weapons and this emerging threat continues to evolve. However, in the right hands, with the right intentions, it is a technology that is greatly benefiting the production of many positive elements that are helpful to society.
Even the area of dentistry has had some revolutionary work accomplished with the assistance of 3D printing technology. The development of 3D printing for orthodontics and other niches within the realm of dentistry are changing the way that people receive dental care, allowing for the quick and easy manufacturing of bespoke products that can assist them in their aural health. Here are just a few areas in which 3D printing has taken dentistry into the 21st century:
3D Printing of…
…Crowns, Dental Framework and Other Restorative Dentistry
Advancements in technology are making the process of developing both fixed and removable prosthodontics a lot more convenient and accessible. With accurate scans of prepared teeth, implant positions and the dental arch, models can be created that can then be used to print bespoke crowns and bridges. The amazing thing with all this collected data is the fact that it can be stored and saved for use in the future if the need arises.
Structures and connections can be designed, created, and printed with a high level of precision and detail and therefore with very little waste product. Materials, time, and resources are all saved with this impressive advancement in technological processes. If a dentist needs to deal with a patient with a very specific issue needed very details restorative work a 3D printed model can provide the level of accuracy needed. It can also be used in conjunction with other convention methods of restorative work to form a comprehensive treatment plan sure to get the best results for the patient.
…Medical Modelling Tools
One challenge made easier with the help of 3D printing processes is that of diagnosis and treatment of dental issues. When a patient needs intervention as serious as something like jaw surgery, there is a great deal of data that you can collect from an x-ray. However, with enough data you can actually create a 3D model and replica of this jaw before the surgery. This useful tool will help surgeons to better prepare for the surgery, especially when it comes to more complex of unusual anatomy and issues.
With this excellent application of 3D printing technology, it increases the likelihood of a successful surgery. Medics can also print 3D models with model lines or drilling and cutting guides which ultimately contributes to surgeries that are far less invasive, a lot quicker and more successful. This application goes beyond dental surgery as it is becoming commonplaces to using drill guides in implant surgery as well as being used by orthopaedic surgery in joint replacement operations. With the data collected of the surgery site, a virtual 3D plan can be drawn up on screen and then transferred onto the patient, acting as an interface that can link the virtual model and the individual undergoing surgery.
The market of clear aligners is certainly a growing one, with growth expected to reach expediential rates over the next few years. The aligner industry is market worth a staggering 3.1 million dollars and the growth is only expected to continue, of almost 30 per cent a year up to the year 2030. With the assistance of 3D printing, the revolution is growing from strength to strength. Viral social media endorsements are pushing the trend even further so it’s quite fortunate that 3D printing is there to support the surge.
Using 3D printing technology enhances the precision of these clear aligners, with smooth, soft edges that don’t need to be polished or trimmed. A superior fit is possible with 3D printing, and they are easily reproduced with the data collected. Depending on the needs of the patient, the thickness of the aligner can be adapted to achieve the best results. This is of great benefit to the recipient of the aligners as other attachments, less transparent and less attractive, are not needed. With the improved precision and production, come improved fittings and consequently improved results. 3D printing is making the lives of dentists easier and the satisfaction of patients even greater than traditional older methods.
…Dental Products and Instruments
Ingenuity and creativity are essential qualities for dentists as they need to quickly develop the necessary tools that they need with limited resources to fit a very specific requirement. 3D printing is making this turning this creative thinking into intuitive designs with the ability to quickly create a prototype to put an idea into plastic. A spontaneous idea in the middle of the night, or a quickly drawn sketch on a post-it note can quickly become a practical and useful reality.
3D Printing is Changing the Game
Dentistry is just one of the fields that is growing in agility and flexibility due to the advancement in 3D printing technology. As the options for materials continue to increase and industries consistently shift towards data, 3D printing is becoming even more versatile and usable. Understandably, there are still some limitations that the technology needs to overcome yet surely as time passes the technology will continue to improve and become even more useful.