Introduction to 3D printing

The term 3D printing is usually defined as a manufacturing approach that constructs objects one side at a time then adding a number of layers to create complete object. This method is more precisely referred to as rapid prototyping and can be defined as additive manufacturing.

Charles Hull was the founder of 3D printing and he belongs to the University of Colorado, USA. He begins it in the 1980s era with focus on the 3D printing by utilizing ultraviolet (UV) light to make the surface coating hard. In actual 3D printing technology is used to form models and prototypes. 3D printing is a method of converting a virtual 3D model into a physical object. Where a 3D object is created by laying down successive layers of material.

Impact of 3D in the life of dentists and dental industry

There is no doubt an increasing use of 3D printing in the medical sciences industry. In dentistry, it is in use to construct dental implants, prosthesis and dental tools. Professionals in the field of dentistry now capable to do oral scanning of their patients and CAD design by their own. After that dentists can 3D print using their 3D printer or with the help of any online 3D printing application service. Various devices, for example, 3D printed braces for quick teeth alignment, dental crowns and 3D printed implants are nowadays being prepared with this technology in dental labs.

3D printed braces with LED lights

Research on 3D printed braces is underway by the KAUST University Saudi Arabia. The basic purpose of 3D braces is to straighten and align the teeth in less time. LED on each tooth actually, provide light to each tooth that helps in faster alignment and straightness.

3D printed aligners

Braces used in correcting the alignment of teeth are called aligners. A student of Jersey Institute of Technology Amos Dudley constructed his own 3D aligners. He creates a set of braces using models of his own teeth and a 3D printer.

3D printed dentures

3D print completes smoothly dentures, with teeth and gum that have to be printed with biocompatible materials. The denture base is also 3D printable and can be adjusted according to the patient’s denture morphology.

3D printing teeth crowns

The most common 3D printing application in dentistry is crown. 3D printing makes accessible to take patient’s teeth scan then to model it and ultimately print the teeth crown. The whole process is very professional and time-saving.  

3D modelling and scanning in dentistry

The 3D dental scanner makes the 3D scanning of a patient quite cheap and easy that is available in the market. DICOM format is a usual format used in medical 3D scanners.

A number of 3D modelling software are available in medical field. These modelling software not only used in 3D printing but also help get a classic 3D visualization. The application of a 3D viewer software is more common nowadays to get a good visualization for better understanding of a problem. Following are some 3D modelling software examples that one can utilize in filed of dentistry:

  1. 3Shape
  2. DWOS Model Builder
  3. Blender

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