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3D printing is an exciting technology that is becoming a standard in the field of dentistry. Although it has been around since the 1980s, it is now being used more and more. According to Wikipedia, “3D additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.” This technology now enables dentists to scan a patient’s teeth and create a 3D printed dental crown while that patient waits. What ordinarily may have taken two weeks now might only take an hour.
How does it work you might ask? According to 3D Printing Industry, the process begins traditionally-with local anesthetic and some precise drilling. After these initial steps, however, the new technology comes into play. Instead of making a mold of the damaged tooth, it is 3D scanned with specialized software and sent to an on-site system for immediate manufacturing, which takes approximately one hour and produces an exact porcelain crown. After a short waiting period, the crown is ready to be applied to the patient’s mouth.
3D printed digital models also have the advantage of being more accurate and of higher quality than those produced manually. A 3D printer is able to produce a high number of accurate models in a single print job.
“The benefits of a process that integrates oral scanning with digital design and digital printing over traditional methods are clear” asserts Avi Cohen of Objet technology.“Production times are significantly reduced and bottlenecks are a thing of the past.”
In addition to increased production capacity, a reduction of delivery times and no need for model storage are further assets of 3D printing.
The investment required to enter into digital impression has been significantly lowered. This will make it possible for small labs to produce accurate 3D printed dental crown restorations from a digitally scanned file while lowering the overhead costs associated with buying and maintaining equipment, minimizing clutter in the lab, and speeding up the production process.