The developers of the Invisalign system, Align Technology has established the use of 3D printing in the dental industry. Invisalign system is printing over 433k distinctive clear aligners daily.
Dentists can now examine a tailor-made mold of the oral cavity of the patient using iTero digital system from Align. The intraoral digital exam is after that changed into digital data. These digital files create the stage to 3D print shape-engineered aligner forms. Align manufacturers using milling and thermo-forming enable the teeth to adapt and be directed into place.
“3D printing is among the ley technological innovations driving the evolution of digital dentistry,” said Srini Kaza, the vice president of product innovation of Align. “3D printing allows us to better meet the increasing demand for clear aligner treatment and the growing consumer demand for a highly-customized end product.” Kaza adds.
According to Kaza, the use of 3D printing is growing in different ways. “For many years, 3D printing has been used as a pre-production step to confirm the form and function of a design before going into full production. This can have a huge impact in terms of speed and quality,” he comments.
“Virtual 3D modeling tools continue to get more sophisticated, so many of the steps that needed a prototype can now be done virtually. There are already many powerful virtual tools for CAD/CAM design, virtual simulations, finite element analysis and CFD to create powerful solutions.”
Apart from that, Kaza hopes more appreciative use of 3D printing and injection molding. “These technologies are the current standard in terms of cost, throughput and materials properties,”Kaza explains. “Injection molding is appropriate when producing millions of the same part. However, 3D printing even at production scales will be appropriate when the goal is mass or part-level customization.”
Going forward, Kaza hopes that virtual design tools will maximize VR/AR technology. This will help in better visualization and product design.
“In addition, 3D printing will allow new design approaches that are not possible with conventional processes. Design and simulation tools are evolving to account for this new paradigm and we can see many players in the design world starting to develop them,” he says. Kaza continues to say that they expect impressive developments in the manufacturing and design features of product development.
When Align began to work with 3D printing as a manufacturing procedure, there were notable hurdles. The technology was previously created as a prototyping procedure. This is still the same in several instances currently.
“There are many examples of 3D printing being used in larger volume these days, but a true production process like Invisalign requires a production volume of hundreds of thousands of parts a day,” remarks Kaza.
3D has been found to provide an unmatched measure of control in made-to-order. Kaza says that in the manufacturing procedure like theirs, they don’t have list. “Each part is customized to the individual patient and built to order,” explains Kaza.
Kaza states that 3D printing is a unique procedure where this kind of production is probable. “There are many challenges associated with building a 3D printing production process, but it’s worth it in the end and in many cases, cannot be substituted with any other process.” Kaza added.