Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rapid Prototyping and 3D Printing Making a Mark in Dentistry

Like many other branches of medical science, the various forms of additive manufacturing such as rapid prototyping and 3D printing are making a significant position in dentistry. Today, millions of orthodontic braces, dental crowns, bridges, etc. are being made with the help of 3D printing. These are being produced with the help of game changing industrial 3D printers which cost over a million US dollars. In the past, dentists have relied on an investment casting method for the small metal bits in false teeth. The process involves creating a person’s individual tooth model out of wax, putting it inside a ceramic casing, melting wax, and finally pouring this molten metal into the cavity or cast it has left. After the cast is opened, the new metal teeth can be extracted. Not only is this process around five thousand years old, it is also intensive in labor, very tricky, and not a hundred percent accurate. This is where the contribution of 3D printing comes into play. With rapid prototyping and 3D printing, dental implants and surgeries are becoming more accurate and less of a hassle for both doctors and patients.

Surgical Use

At University of Louisville School of Dentistry, specialists have developed a digitally aided surgery protocol that involves 3D scanning of patients’ jaw, gums and teeth, making a set of temporary teeth through CNC milling and finally 3D printing the templates and surgical models required. The specialists are testing out a fully digitized approach to computer-aided dental surgery. The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry published an article where the researchers described the fully digital surgical procedure in detail. They believe that this technological advancement could be greatly beneficial for a hassle free surgery experience.

In order to test the efficiency of the 3D scanning and printing protocol, the team employed it in replacement of two teeth of a female patient at the School of Dentistry’s clinic. First, the patient’s mouth was 3D scanned to obtain the required digital information as opposed to traditionally taking an impression of the teeth in a physical mold. The scanning process is definitely a lot less invasive and more accurate. After obtaining this information, the team began the process of designing the restoration teeth. For this, CAD software was used followed by CNC milling. Then, using some 3D printed templates and models of the mouth, the surgeon placed all the dental implants without any disruption in the gum flaps of the patient. This welcome initiative had the patient in all smiles, due to the less invasive nature of the surgical procedure.


Not just the mouth, 3D printed products have also made their way into the human body through hearing aids, artificial limbs etc. More than sixty million custom hearing aid shells and molds have been manufactured using 3D printing in the last sixteen years. Many have been fitted with various 3D printed orthopedic implants, titanium jawbones, hip replacement joints and other prosthetic limbs. Also, around one hundred thousand knee replacements have been performed using 3D printed surgical guides every year.

The healthcare industry as a whole is swiftly adapting to the new technology that involves additive manufacturing. No human being is built the same, hence the need for customized production of teeth, limbs and other body parts. 3D printing can offer exactly that, being run on CAD software that instructs printers to build objects just as designed. Layer by layer, the material is printed according to the medical scan provided as the CAD file. This type of software proves to be cheaper and faster to replace than the tools used in traditional factories- designed to build identical products from an assembly line. Hence, customization remains the main strength of rapid prototyping and 3D printing.

The Current Market

Additive manufacturing in medical science is still a tiny sector compared to the huge machine tool market of seventy billion dollars. However, 3D printing is advancing rapidly in a wide range of sectors including healthcare. According to the estimates the growth of 3D printed services and products last year was 26%, whose net worth is around $5.2 billion. This large figure happens to be the tip of the iceberg as McKinsey, a management consultancy firm demands that the economic growth can be as much as $550 billion every year by the year 2025.This is due to the fact that 3D printing provides low prices, better quality products, unprecedented lower production time and of course, better health for patients.

Overall, using 3D printing for teeth implants and surgeries is going to bring unprecedented revolution in the healthcare sector.

About Hasit Vibhakar

Hasit Vibhakar is a proactive, performance-driven middle market executive with 20 years + progressive expertise in C-level leadership and problem solving for additive manufacturing, advanced CNC manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing, supply chain, technology services, and startup operations. Proven track record of enhancing enterprise value and shareholder value. Experienced at building small cap and middle market companies.

Hasit Vibhakar is an Industrialist specializing in strategic direction and growth. A seasoned c-level business executive with many years of proven track record of building enterprise value and shareholder value. He has successfully started eight technology, industrial and manufacturing enterprises and all have been successfully acquired at premium multiples in the industry. Prior to being a serial entrepreneur he has been employed with leading aerospace, telecom, technology, industrial and supply chain based companies.

Unitron Media
A Public Relations Agency
Mark Gomez
4570 N. First Ave , Suite 120
Tucson, AZ 85718

No comments:

Post a Comment