3D printing in dentistry

before and after gold crowns

3D printing in dentistry

3D printing in dentistry has come a long way since this was first written. We currently utilize 2 3D printers in our office for models, surgical guides for dental implants, and orthodontic aligners.

Image of 3D printing of dental models on our formlabs.
We print models and more on our formlabs printer.

3D printing in dentistry

So for almost a year (2013) I have been watching the evolution of 3D printers and in particular watching for the future opportunities in dentistry.  Many dental products are now CAD/CAM so the leap to 3D printing simply requires the right resins.  I know we can print temporary dental crowns, dentures, night guards, surgical guides, copings, and many other dental products today BUT the real product to watch for is the printing of permanent dental crowns.  3M came out with a permanent dental crown that is resin based with ceramic particles called Lava.  I envision something similar to that running through a 3D printer and made in the dentists office.

Why do I think this is coming?

  1. We already have very advanced 3D scanners used to mill crowns in dental offices and laboratories.
  2. The software already exists
  3. We have a resin product that might even be capable of being used today (I’m not sure of the exact specs for what kind of resin can be used in a 3D printer) and if it is not, it is definitely heading in that direction.
  4. The home consumer demand for 3D printing will drive the cost of printers way down.  While the typical milling unit can run 100K for a dental office you can find 3D printing units for $399.
  5. 3D printers are already more than accurate enough (28 µm) for crown and bridge. Research by Bae 2017 JPD shows additive is more accurate than subtractive for denatl restorations.

3D printing zirconia – This is the big one.

The Ceramaker 900 from 3DCeram can print a zirconia crown with similar trueness to milling. Wang JPD 2019

3D printing of casts vs stone vs digital models

3D printing and stone casts are better than digital models according to Ellakany JPD 2022.

Companies that 3D print in dentistry

A few companies already involved.

  • EOS and Concept Laser both print metal
  • 3D Systems Projet MP3000 for surgical guides and wax ups
  •   ProJet 3510 MP
  • Solidscape by Sratasys have 3Z Labcast and Objet
  • Stratasys Objet30 OrthoDesk 3D Printer producing stone models, ortho appliances, clear aligners, retainers, and surgical guides
  • EnvisionTEC prints temps called E-dent and soon Zirconia?
  • DWS
  • Argen digital making copings
  • Bego making copings and frameworks
  • Dale Dental making copings
  • Leader Italia custom implants
  • Many companies using to print custom abutments
  • 3D Systems, Argen, BEGO, Concept Laser, DWS, EnvisionTEC, EOS, Prodways, Solidscape, Stratasys

3D printing in dentistry uses this Juell 3D

Specific printers for 3D printing in dentistry and orthodontics

There are stereolithography apparatus printers, digital light processing technique printers, fused filament fabrication technique printers, and polyjet technique printers. The SLA and DLP printers use a vat of resin that we selectively cure by ligth activated polymerization. The FFF printers selectively dispense material through a nozzle. Finally the polyjet technique uses droplets of material to selectively build.

Stereolithography apparatus printers or SLA printers

  • Zenith by Dentis

Digital light processing technique printers or DLP printers

  • M-one by MAKEX

Fused filament fabrication technique printers or FFF printers

  • Cubicon by HyVISION

Polyjet printers

  • Objet by Stratasys

3D printing in dentistry research

Polyjet is the most precise and both polyjet and DLP techniques are more precise than FFF and SLA printers according to Kim AJO 2018.

Stereolithographic models can be made for a CBCT to prepare block bone grafting prior to the surgery. 1

Washington State University is printing bone scaffolding that with the right mix of proteins will likely be used for block grafting.

Fabricating dental models instead of pouring from stone.  Objet

Another dental lab that is at the forefront of 3D printing in dentistry is Albensi lab.

Companies producing crowns

Great article in IDT 

3D printing accuracy studies

Printing is worse than pressing a material and it does not matter whether the data comes from a traditional impression or a digital impression. Eftekhar JPD 2018

3D printing outside of dentistry

They are using biopolymer here to support parts of the body, in particular a trachea.  Could this be used instead of Ti or PTFE membrane?