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The present for some, the future for many

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  Posted by: The Probe      14th September 2020

Among the latest innovations to grace the dental industry – of which there have been many – is the concept of 3D printing. For the modern profession, the ability to fabricate certain products and appliances quickly and precisely offers new opportunities in terms of speed, quality and convenience of patient care.

Out of infancy

Although 3D printing is still a relatively new phenomenon in dentistry, it has been around for longer than most would think. The concept can be traced back to the 1860s, when a French artist captured an object in 3D by using a selection of cameras. The ideas were developed by various individuals over time, until the technique behind modern-day 3D printing was published in 1981. Stereolithography – the additive manufacturing process involving high-powered lasers and liquid resins to create 3D objects layer by layer – was introduced in 1984. From then, the race was on to produce first 3D printers as we know them today and the technology has been developed and refined exponentially since then. In 1999, scientists used the equipment to 3D print a scaffold to support organs they had grown from cells. With huge potential for all healthcare professionals, it wasn’t long until innovators and early adopters in dentistry began investing in 3D printing technology.

The pinnacle of digital

Much of modern dentistry is about striving for better. We are always looking for new ways to enhance the patient experience, all the while seeking more predictable, highly aesthetic and longer-lasting treatment outcomes. Simultaneously, we need streamlined and simplified professional workflows that encourage efficiency without any compromise on quality.

As a result, ‘digital dentistry’ have become the buzzwords of the decade. Solutions offer all the advantages professionals and patients seek, often with the added advantage of greater value for money all round. 3D printing represents what many would describe as the pinnacle of digital capability in the sector.

More and more clinicians are therefore printing products like night guards and dental models to create clear orthodontic aligners. When utilised as part of a comprehensive digital workflow, this is the final piece to an otherwise finely-tuned workflow that both clinicians and patients favour. The ability to print in-house affords previously unrivalled time-savings, accessibility and affordability. Some 3D printers also enable the production of temporary crowns and bridges, allowing dentists to provide restorations to their patients quickly and easily. In addition, many clinicians involved in dental implantology are using 3D printers to create their own surgical guides in-house, consequently improving the predictability of surgical treatment stages as well.

But it’s not just dentists that benefit from 3D printing. Laboratories today can 3D print models to replace traditional plaster models. The digital alternative is often more stable, durable and accurate, improving the precision and predictability of the entire treatment process. Ultimately, the dentist receives a better service and the patient gets a higher quality of treatment.

Maximising on the opportunities

With so many indications for 3D printing, how do you find the right solution for you? How do you even know if this would be a worthwhile area of investment for your business? The key is to speak to product experts and/or regular users of 3D printing technology to see how you could benefit. It’s important to understand which areas you would use the equipment in most, as well as how many cases you would need to complete each week or month in order to ensure a positive return on your investment.

Then comes the decision regarding what model to purchase and from which supplier. Ultimately, this is about finding the technology that works best in your hands. You need to work with a reputable supplier you can trust to deliver the quality products and on-going support you need to get the very most from your technology. For example, the Straumann Group offers an array of solutions from globally-leading brands. It provides the innovative StraumannÒ CARESÒ P series 3D printers that are built to optimise quality, productivity, efficiency and flexibility for solutions such as surgical guides, including technologies designed for dentists and laboratories of all sizes.

Take a leap

Like digital dentistry, 3D printing is here to stay. It is likely the present for some and the future for many. Being sure to invest in the most appropriate technology for your business is key to long-term success


Discover all Straumann® CARES® Digital Solutions at

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