While 3D technologies have significant advantages for the sector, their adoption may frighten some practitioners because it requires a new work logic, training in software, scanners and printers and a certain amount of confidence in these innovative processes. Today, for example, more than 50% of French laboratories have equipped themselves with 3D scanners and machine tools and 20% with 3D printers. These players recorded a 70% increase in turnover, proof that they represent real gains for dental professionals. Anton from EnvisionTEC added, “Most practitioners are very receptive and open to new digital technologies. It is simply a matter of asking clinicians and dental industry professionals to understand and trust the new digital technology and its benefits for themselves, their company and their patients. And of course, education and training play an important role. This is why many manufacturing companies are investing in this field to better understand the technology and its clinical applications“.
A dematerialised manufacturing process
As mentioned above, 3D technologies should be able to provide greater precision and reduce manufacturing times. But what are the new steps to follow when creating 3D printed dental devices? Oliver Bellaton explains, “The physical impression will be replaced by a 3D digital impression taken by the dentist with an intra-oral scanner (meaning a camera will reconstruct in 3D and in real time the surface of the teeth and gums). This 3D file can then be sent over to the dental laboratory through a secure web platform. The laboratory will review the digital impression and model the morphology of the crown in its design software (CAD), taking into account the limits of the gum, interference with other digitised teeth and even the shape of the patient’s smile with a face scanner. In case of doubt, a quick exchange by split screen with the dentist allows to validate the shape of the crown. The 3D file of the crown can then be sent to a 3D printer for manufacturing. In the near future, the dentist could have the 3D printer directly in the office for simple manufacturing. All digital flow configurations are possible. The process may take only a few hours, which in some cases means that the patient could only be brought in to the practice once.” The result is reduced logistics flows and production times, a personalised system that is much more adapted to the patient’s morphology.
Dentists and dental technicians will therefore have to equip themselves with 3D scanners or printers but also with CAD software, an obstacle for many professionals today. Nicolas Klaus, Dental Product & Business Development at Formlabs explains, “The essential pillars of these new working methods are 3D scanners, CAD software and 3D printing. Generally, there is a point of resistance in the software on which training is not obvious”.
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