3D Printing for Dental Applications

The impact of 3D printing continues strong in both industry and academia, according to market research and business intelligence company IDTechX, which recently released a report on the technology. According to a press release announcing the report, the past few years have seen rapid expansion of affordable desktop bioprinters in the field of regenerative medicine. 3D bioprinting is helping to create complex structures such as corneal, bile duct, and heart tissue as well as skin for use in wound healing. Researchers also use it to model diseases to observe cell behavior and test treatments.

3D printing pioneer Avi Reichental is vice chairman of DWS Systems, a stereolithographer with a dental business unit. In a 2015 interview with IndustryWeek, he said that, over time, the technology’s impact could potentially rival that of the steam engine and called it “one of the most powerful catalysts in the Internet of things.” Access spoke to him specifically about 3D printed dental restorations.

Currently, about how many U.S. practices offer 3D-printed appliances?

Reichental: 3D-printed appliances are very prevalent within U.S. practices, especially in the development of dental aligners — from those created by the industry leader in clear aligners to ones that are printed on-site and on demand. 3D printing is the treatment of choice when it comes to creating crowns, bridges and partials both in-clinic and in dental labs. All leading central labs and smaller labs are using 3D printing for crowns, bridges, partials and even implant drill guides.

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