An insight into 3D printing for Dental - An interview with Erik Erickson
With the Dental Technology Show around the corner and new developments in Stratasys dental 3D printers being recently announced, it’s an exciting time for 3D print and the dental industry! We’ve caught up with Stratasys’s Dental Business Manager EMEA – Erik Erickson to ask him about some of the latest developments…
How are Stratasys Dental solutions different to the competitors in the market?
Stratasys focuses on the needs of today’s dental labs better than anyone. We understand that the technician is the lifeblood of the lab, and that his time is a precious resource. As a consequence, we design our printers to be reliable workhorses, requiring very little daily maintenance, and as few ‘touches’ as possible. What are ‘touches’? Every time the technician needs to go to the printer to take parts off, manually remove support structures, put the parts in a curing oven, clean them with alcohol, and change the resin for the next print job he will almost certainly spend between 10-30 minutes per touch per print job. And with the small tray sizes typical of today’s economical printers, these print-cure could happen up to 10 times per day, or around 2-4 hours of a technician’s time–per day!
Stratasys printers are based on inkjet technology which allows the lab to send multiple types of models or devices to be printed in different materials (rigid, flexible, opaque, translucent) all on the same tray. That means the lab can send all of it’s jobs at once and the printer will take care of the rest. The larger tray size found on Stratasys’ professional dental printers mean unattended overnight or weekend jobs are very productive. In terms of what it takes to finish a printed part, there is no post-cure of parts printed on Stratasys’ dental printers because they come off the printer fully cured. Simply clean with water and the parts are ready to use. It is interesting to note that Stratasys is collaborating with Effegi Brega, maker of the ‘SoftRelax’ automated cleaning system, so for labs doing significant production, cleaning is even faster and easier.
In addition, with competitive printers the accuracy of your prints isn’t assured over time. Degradation of key components as well as tray placement can affect accuracy. With Stratasys’ proprietary inkjet technology, the print accuracy is assured no matter where you print on the tray and you can expect to get the same model quality time after time.
What are the main improvements that Stratasys are making to the Dental collection of machines to better cater for increased demands in dental labs?
Our latest printer, the J720 Dental, takes our inkjet printing technology to the next level. Now you can print wax-ups, mock-ups, and study models in fully realistic colour (up to 500,000 colours!). In addition, it is one of the most productive dental 3D printers available, up to 1.7 times more productive than competitive printers which are considered “fast”.
How do you see 3D Printing developing for the dental industry moving forwards?
In the industry we are seeing a move towards full-colour intra-oral scans and as a consequence fully-realistic colour 3D printing will become prevalent. This will enable labs to use patient scan data to, for example, use the actual stump-shade from the model to get the correct shading of the crown to match the adjacent teeth.
Tri-Tech 3D will be on stand C12 at the Dental Technology Show on 17th-18th of May where you’ll be able to have a chat with our team about the latest 3D print technology for the dental industry.