How to Accurately Price for Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing Projects

An in-depth pricing guide for 3D printing business and fabrication shops. By Mike Moceri – Founder & CEO MakerOS SLA 3D printing, and all of its variations, offers incredible accuracy for highly detailed parts like electronics enclosures and small miniatures. But so much accuracy comes with an equal amount of complexity and cost. I’ve discovered […]

3D Systems announces two new versions of its Geomagic reverse engineering software

U.S.-based 3D Systems has officially announced two new versions of its Geomagic Design X and Geomagic Wrap 3D scan processing software packages. The amped-up iterations feature a number of “first-to-market capabilities” and are designed to allow engineers to streamline workflows and deliver high-quality, high-precision products from 3D scans in a timely manner. Radhika Krishnan, an […]

3D Systems Streamlines Software for Reverse Engineering

3D Systems has announced the latest versions of its Geomagic Design X and Geomagic Wrap  software, this time claiming “first-to-market capabilities” for streamlining workflows and improving design precision.

New features within Design X meant to exemplify this claim include improved workflows and expanded modeling pathways for complex, revolved parts. In particular, the software includes an Unroll/Reroll function that makes it possible to model said components in a simpler, yet more precise fashion. The tool allows users to extract a 2D sketch automatically so that they can modify it and then reroll it, purportedly reducing the need for trial and error typically associated with modeling these geometries. In turn, part precision, efficiency and downstream usability are said to be increased. For a comparison of the revolve process in another CAD software, see here.

Unrolling of a 3D scan of a tire for mold modeling in Geomagic Design X. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

The software also includes a new Selective Surfacing Feature, which is meant to make modeling with 3D scans faster and more precise. According to the company, users will be able to “highlight portions of the a (using mesh selection tools, or curves) and surface just those portions in a way that makes downstream ‘hybrid modeling’ much easier.”

3D Systems has also released a method for previewing yet-to-be fully released features. Geomagic Design X customers on-maintenance can access R&D capabilities using plugins that will allow the company to receive feedback on these tools before they are released more generally.

Hybrid Modeling Workflow of a topology optimized part in Geomagic Design X. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Geomagic Wrap 2021 offers a variety of new capabilities for manipulating 3D scan data and imported files for various applications. This includes a new scripting editor enabling engineers to customize their workflow using Python that allow for the use of new tools that include ‘auto complete’ and ‘contextual highlighting’. API documentation for the software will be continuously updated online.

Geomagic Design X 2020 streamlines Hybrid Modeling Workflows for molding, casting, topology optimization, and medical applications. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Texture manipulation tools are integrated directly into Geomagic Wrap 2021 that make it possible to manipulate and re-touch colors, logos and other visual elements obtained from 3D scans within the same workflow. A new HD Mesh Construction tool is meant to make the construction of 3D data from point clouds more effective and aid in dealing with challenges associated with large data sets and scans with missing information.

Example of using the updated scripting editor showing the real time error tracking, contextual highlighting, and autocomplete tools. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

All of these tools help to strengthen 3D Systems larger strategy of cohesion across its digital manufacturing products, which also include additive manufacturing, virtual reality and simulation systems, inspection software and more. Altogether, the company has a solutions for many steps along the design-to-manufacturing pipeline (or “digital thread”).

To be discussed in an upcoming report from SmarTech Analysis on software in the AM industry (and update to its 2017 report), 3D Systems has one of the more diverse portfolios of 3D printing software. The Geomagic suite, which also includes design and haptic sculpting tools, makes the company unique among 3D printer manufacturers in part for the 3D scanning and inspection software included. Meanwhile, its metal build preparation software, 3DXPert, has even been sold to customers who didn’t even have 3D Systems printers and the company’s CAM solutions, Cimatron and GibbsCAM, give it a leg into the toolmaking industry. In total, SmarTech estimates 3D Systems to hold a significant share of the market for both 3D printing and scanning software. The total value of the AM software industry is projected by SmarTech to be worth $2.4 billion by 2026.

Modeling of a complex part with cylindrical drum slots in Geomagic Design X. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

It competes against a number of other companies, both 3D printer manufacturers and software developers. This includes Stratasys, which has grabbed and increasing amount of the software space with the acquisition and development of GrabCAD, as well as Materialise, Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes.

Geomagic Design X 2020 will be made available late May 2020, while general availability of Geomagic Wrap 2021 is slated for late July 2020.

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Raise3D completes its “all-in-one” software portfolio with ideaMaker Library launch

Desktop printer manufacturer Raise3D has just launched its new ideaMaker Library software, the final piece of the all-in-one portfolio designed to integrate all stages of the 3D printing workflow. Adding ideaMaker Library into the mix The new library webpage can be used to access pre-determined slicing profiles (.bin) for a wide range of printers and […]

3D Modeling & 3D Printing Can Improve THA Diagnosis, Classification, & Surgical Planning

The Electronic Presentation Online System, or EPOS, is the European Society of Radiology‘s electronic database for scientific exhibits. A group of researchers published in EPOS about their work using 3D modeling and 3D printing tools to diagnose, classify, and carry out surgical planning for fixing periprosthetic acetabular fractures, which are a difficult, but common, complication of total hip arthroplasty (THA).

“Periprosthetic acetabular fractures are related to traumatic events and pathologic underlining conditions that reduce the structural integrity of supporting bone[1] and often are associated with aseptic loosening, periprosthetic osteolysis and severe bone loss[2],” the researchers wrote.

“Analysis based on standard radiographs alone are not suitable to reliably detect the residual stability of the implant and measure the extent of the fracture and pelvic bone loss [3].”

Fig. 1: (a) Anterior–posterior (AP) pelvis and (b) lateral view of right hip radiographs showed mild signs of periacetabular osteolysis without evidence of implant loosening and acetabular fracture.

They state that when it comes to defining a fracture pattern, CT scanning is “the gold standard,” which is definitely the case when a 3D virtual rendering is needed to help with surgical pre-planning.

3D modeling software based on CT scans allows clinicians to get precise images of “tridimensional reconstructions of the bony surface” by virtually removing metallic implants with segmentation. Other analytic tools include measuring remaining bone stock, evaluating implant stability, and characterizing the fracture, and 3D images can also be used to 3D print anatomical models for surgical planning and simulation purposes.

The researchers said their paper would show that bone quality and fracture morphology assessment can be improved with 3D modeling software, and reveal how useful 3D modeling and 3D printing are for the diagnostic process of periprosthetic acetabular fracture around THA, as well as making life-size models for pre-op implant templating, simulation, and sizing.

Fig. 2: CT scan of pelvis. (a) Coronal view shows slightly medially protruded acetabular cup; (b) sagittal view of the hip revealed posterior wall fracture of the acetabulum. The tridimensional reconstruction of the fracture is visible (c), but its extension is hidden by image artifacts.

They used the case of a 75-year-old woman who came to an ER after a domestic trauma incident. The patient had a history of severe coxarthrosis in her right hip, which had been treated a decade before using cementless THA. Doctors took AP radiographs of her pelvis, and a cross-leg view of her hip, and saw no signs of fracture or loosening around the acetabulum or the stem. However, a “CT scan of the pelvis with MAR protocol” showed that the posterior wall of the acetabulum did have a fracture, though the acetabular cup wasn’t displaced.

Materialise Mimics software was used to create a 3D digital model of the pelvis based on CT scan data. The bone was differentiated from surrounding soft tissue and the patient’s prosthetic implants through segmentation.

Fig. 3: Tridimensional images elaborated with 3D modeling software. (a,b) Entire pelvis with acetabular cup retained. Femurs and femoral stem were removed during segmentation. (c,d) Bone quality map shows regions with normal bone quality (green) and regions with low bone quality and thickness (red). (e,f) Measurements of the bone defect area and fracture extension.

“The first phase is thresholding, which includes all voxels whose density is within a specified range of Hounsfield Unit (HU) values. We used a mask with a HU range from 130 to 1750 in order to exclude metallic and ceramic implants and include both cancellous and cortical bone,” the researchers explained.

“The final segmentation, with the removal of soft tissues and artifacts, was manually performed using additional tools of the software (Fig. 3 a,b). Eventually, both femurs and metal implants were digitally removed from the corresponding pelvis and a 3D image of the isolated region of interest (ROI) was created.”

A bone quality map with a color gradient was used for the acetabulum, according to cortical and overall bone thickness of the various regions. Measures of the fracture’s area, shape, and spatial location were analyzed later, along with “the acetabular bone loss and the center of rotation, compared to the contralateral acetabulum.”

Finally, a life-size model of the patient’s entire pelvis was 3D printed on a Form 3L system.

Fig. 4: (a) 3D printed life-size plastic model of the entire pelvis. (b,c) Particular of the medial wall and posterior column fracture.

After analyzing the 3D images and the 3D printed model, they re-classified the posterior wall fracture as an incomplete posterior column and medial wall acetabular fracture. Additionally, the fracture was found to be “spontaneous,” with less than 50% loss of bone stock. Finally, the bone quality map determined global bone loss, showing poor quality in both the posterior and medial walls. The 3D printed model was also used to perform pre-op templating.

“The treatment strategy was chosen according to the algorithm proposed by Simon et al. [14, 15, 16], which suggest the acetabular revision surgery bridging or distracting the fracture, without fracture fixation,” the researchers explained.

Fig. 5: (a) Postoperative AP radiograph of the pelvis and (b,c) CT scan of the pelvis at 3 months post-op shows good implant positioning and complete fracture healing.

AP radiographs taken of the pelvis and right hip post-op showed that the implant was “well-positioned and fixed.” Three months later, a CT scan was taken of the patient’s pelvis, which showed “bone integration of the trabecular cup” and complete fracture healing “with callus formation.” A 3D digital model built using DICOM images confirmed this.

Fig. 6: 3D modeling digital reconstruction. The posterior column and medial wall of the acetabulum have been restored.

“The use of 3D modeling software showed that periprosthetic acetabular fractures can be better addressed, compared to plain radiograph and CT scans,” the researchers concluded.

“3D modeling software provide additional measurement tools which allow the volumetric analysis of bone defects and bone quality assessment.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

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Unity acquires Artomatix to enable AI-assisted 3D design

Unity Technologies, the Danish-American video game software development company behind the Unity engine, has announced the acquisition of Artomatix, an Irish-based software company using AI and neural networks to streamline 3D artistic workflows.  Under the terms of the acquisition, Artomatix will remain at its location in Dublin, Ireland as it joins the Unity family. The […]

3D Printing News Briefs: April 4, 2020

It’s the first 3D Printing News Briefs of the month! To start with, SelfCAD released a new update, and ACEO is hosting a webinar series about 3D printing with silicones, while Objectify Technologies and TAGMA India are hosting a webinar series about AM adoption. Finally, SHINING 3D and Scan the World are using 3D scanners to bring art and culture to people during a time when most can’t leave their homes.

SelfCAD 2.9.2 Release

SelfCAD has released its latest software update, SelfCAD 2.9.2, which improves upon existing features and adds new ones to make 3D modeling and printing more efficient. First, there’s a new Environment Map feature in the Settings dropdown menu that lets you add lighting and scenery to your model, and even an environment map. In advanced settings, the new Macro Preview feature lets you see the results of the macros you’ve added without having to finalize your choices.

You can set a Minimum Step Size for Drawing, Transformation, and Deformation tools, and apply several operations, such as Chamfer, Fillet, Round Object, and Simplify, to Profiles. In addition, SelfCAD has fixed some bugs, and added more settings and options to the Round Object tool. If you have any questions or bugs to report, you can join the SelfCAD Facebook group or email

ACEO Presenting 3D Silicone Printing Webinar Series

Due to newly implemented health and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, ACEO continues to be operational, but is unable to receive customers right now. So, in an effort to stay connected during these strange times, the company’s team of application specialists, design engineers, and material experts are presenting a series of webinars – in English – all about silicone 3D printing.

The first one, “ACEO Basics,” will be held Tuesday, April 7, from 9-9:30 CET, and Wednesday, April 8, from 4-4:30 CET. You can sign up for the webinars here; the event password is jVMGwgX$242. Future topics for the series, with dates not yet announced, are “Real Silicones,” “Design Freedom,” and “ACEO Use Cases.” Please email with your name, company/organization, and country if you’d like to sign up. A modern browser (i.e. not Internet Explorer) is recommended to watch the webinars.

Objectify Technologies and TAGMA India Holding Webinars

As many people around the world are staying indoors and away from other people during the pandemic, it’s easy to get bored. But, you can spend your time in a productive way, which is why Objectify Technologies and TAGMA India are holding their own 3D printing webinar series together. The series, themed “3D Printing: Prototype to Production,” was created to promote adoption of and spread awareness about additive manufacturing. Webinars will begin on April 6th and go through April 14th, with topics such as Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing 101, Learnings and Misconceptions, and Current Challenges and Demand of the Industry.

“To help engineers around the world learn something new in this lockdown time, we have come up with a series of webinars on Additive Manufacturing (AM). The idea behind this webinar is to spread awareness regarding the AM technology and help companies in their journey towards industry 4.0,” said Ankit Sahu, Founder & Director, Objectify Technologies Pvt Ltd. “The objective is to encourage individuals ranging from students, researchers, and industrialist, on 3D Printing and the value it possesses for Industry 4.0.

“I thank Mr. DK Sharma, President TAGMA India and the entire team of TAGMA for their support. During this challenging time, it’s the collective effort that will help us all grow. Let us all do our bit to help the industry in skill development.”

3D Scanning to Build a Museum Without Walls

Continuing on in our list of things to do while stuck inside during the coronavirus crisis, SHINING 3D has been working with MyMiniFactoryto to digitize important artifacts for its Scan the World community-built initiative, which archives 3D printable sculptures and other culturally significant objects. Together, they are basically building a 3D museum without walls that anyone can access at any time and from anywhere. Many museums open their data with an open license  in 2D, but don’t have the necessary resources to do so in 3D. Scan the World founder and manager Jon Beck is offering museums a free end-to-end service of scanning the sculptures, with the EinScan Pro 2X Plus, before processing the data into 3D models and uploading them to the museum’s Scan the World profile.

“The quality is very nice for the price that you pay. Scanning is still quite a high-level-entry technology, but what SHINING 3D has been able to do is to create an accessible affordable product, which still produces very good results for a wide range of industries, for me working with sculptures I haven’t found any issues so far working with marble and plaster sculptures and even bronze sculptures. EinScan has been able to solve all of these problems for me,” Beck said.

“There is so much story behind every single artwork whether it’s an original or it’s a copy which is quite beautiful and so, working with each member of staff in the museum who want to tell a different story about their collection is great.”

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

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AMS 2020: Panels on 3D Printing Materials and Applications for Dental Industry

At our recent Additive Manufacturing Strategies 2020 in Boston, co-hosted by SmarTech Analysis, many different topics were discussed in keynotes and panels, such as binder jetting, medical 3D printing, and different materials. Dental 3D printing was also a major topic of discussion at the event, and I attended three panels that focused on additive manufacturing for dental applications.

The first, “Into the dental and oral surgery office,” had three panelists: Dr.-Ing. Roland Mayerhofer, the Product Line Manager for Coherent/OR Laser; CEO Manager of Oral 3D Martina Ferracane; and Mayra Vasques, PhD, a dental prosthesis fellow at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

Dr. Mayerhofer went first, and provided a quick overview of Coherent’s laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) systems, and the dental applications for which they can be used.

The versatile CREATOR is the company’s open system, and can print with multiple materials, such as brass, cobalt chromium, steel, and Inconel.

“As long as it works, you can put any powder in you want,” Dr. Mayerhofer said about the 3D printer.

He explained said that the CREATOR setup is “typical but can be as big as a stand-up fridge, not the American double-size.”

You can take a look at the rest of the printer specs above, along with a few features that will be added to the new system that’s coming in 2021, such as two powder hoppers and a build platform.

“Then you can take them out, put fresh hoppers in, and keep going,” Dr. Mayerhofer said.

He stated that the dental field is likely one of the first major adopters of metal additive manufacturing, as the technology offers 100% personalization and can fabricate small, complex parts out of existing materials, like titanium alloys…all perfect features for the dental industry.

Dr. Mayerhofer then discussed Coherent’s digital dental workflow, which can get from scanning to a completed 3D printed part in 12 steps. Some of these steps include designing the CAD file and preparing it for 3D printing in the company’s APP software suite.

Later process steps are annealing, and then sandblasting, support removal, polishing, ceramic coating – added manually – and voila, you have a finished product.

The Dental Cockpit is Coherent’s latest addition. The CAM software makes it easy to load and print parts, which means that the digital dental workflow as a whole is much less complex. There’s one click to select the file, another to choose the materials and properties, and then a final click to generate the G-code.

Dr. Mayerhofer said that Coherent’s whole dental workflow, 3D printing on the CREATOR include, takes just one work day to fabricate a completed bridge in the dental lab.

After the cast skeleton is scanned, the dental lab begins preparing the CAD data at 8 am. Then the print job has to be prepared in Dental Cockpit, and 3D printing typically begins in the morning.

Once the parts are removed from the print bed, post processing is completed, and then a porcelain coating is added before the product is subjected to heat treatment and polishing. The completed bridge is then ready to go by 4 pm.

Dr. Mayerhofer noted that a dental lab’s ROI on the CREATOR 3D printing system is less than a year…typically about six months, in fact.

Then it was Ferracane’s turn to explain how her company, Oral 3D, makes 3D printing simple for dentists, even as it’s occurring at the industrial level.

“Our solution makes it extremely simple for dentists to bring 3D printing to their practice,” she said.

She presented a brief overview of the US dental market, noting that some of the major applications for 3D printing in the field include aligners, crowns, surgical guides, and soft tissue models, which dentists use to test procedures ahead of time.

“Usually today, the way most of these models are done is through intraoral scanning,” she explained.

Ferracane said that SLA technology makes it much easier to make these soft tissue models. But, even so, they can still only be used for testing purposes most of the time.

3D printed models of hard tissue – bone – are also fabricated, but she said that they’re not used often, as it’s difficult for dentists to come up with STL files of just the hard tissue.

She pulled up a slide that had the world “PROBLEM” across the top. The image appears to be scan data of bone, which looks pretty hard to read.

“It’s not easy for dentists to make this into something printable by cleaning up the images,” Ferracane explained. “So they can pay to outsource it to labs to clean it up. But our 3D printing software automatically does this. Just drag the CT scan, and we’ll take care of changing it from DICOM to STL. With one click, we can then convert STL to G-code.”

She said that while it’s obviously good to fabricate dental applications this way using Oral 3D’s printer, it will work with whatever system you’re already using.

These 3D printed models serve a variety of purposes – they can improve communication with patients, help in treatment planning, and even “broaden learning.” Ferracane mentioned that the company has partnerships with NYU and Harvard for this last.

Other applications include bone blocks, made-to-measure titanium membranes, and maxillofacial surgery. Additionally, she stated that Oral 3D recently began collaborating with dental surgeons, who use the company’s 3D printed dental models for planning and patient communication.

She finished by stating that the company believes FDM printing can “be a good value add for dentists.”

Vasques finished things by sharing her research into how things look, dental 3D printing-wise, from the point of view of clinicians.

“It’s common for most to be scared of using 3D printing,” she explained. “They think it’s plug and play, and it’s not.”

For her research, she divided users into two separate groups – high level experience (seniors), and innovation (early adopters and students).

“We are trying to figure out how these people understand the technology,” she said.

High level users expect accuracy, efficiency, high quality technology, and high-performance materials for the purposes of chairside 3D printing. Vasques said that these users “don’t want to wait 2-3 hours to make products by hand.”

“In university, we’re trying to establish protocols and research to help these people have the results they are expecting.

“We’re trying to solve problems, like mouthguards for sports.”

Vasques said that last year, she and her team published three articles about dental 3D printing topics, such as 3D printed occlusal devices and post-processing. She launched INNOV3D the same year, in order to help train professors in using dental 3D printing.

“We have an online training platform, educational materials, and 3D lab,” she stated.

Once she finished and sat back down, Davide Sher, the panel’s moderator, asked the other two panelists how they would address the challenges that Vasques listed, and how they would make dentists understand more about dental 3D printing.

Ferracane answered that most dentists aren’t buying 3D printers today, because they’re initially taught that the systems are really easy to use when they’re not. Once they run into issues with SLA technology, they get frustrated and just start outsourcing the work instead.

“Then they’re really dissatisfied, because they’re complicated and not just plug and play. We need to help them understand that they can bring the technology back to their office.”

Sher noted that dentists don’t really have the time to learn about the more advanced types, and so asked if the companies directed their technology to users in dental labs; Dr. Mayerhofer said yes.

After a short break, the next session, “Dental lab experiences with 3D printing,” began. While Les Kalman, an Assistant Professor for Restorative Dentistry at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine, was unable to make AMS 2020, Arfona founder and CEO Justin Marks and Sam Wainwright, Dental Product Manager for Formlabs, were both ready to go.

Marks went first, explaining that Arfona, founded in 2017 by dental technicians and 3D printing enthusiasts on “the core belief that thermoplastic dental materials should not be substituted for inferior photopolymers,” has been working to “bring 3D printing into the world of dentistry.” The company’s flagship product is its 3D printed flexible nylon dentures.

He pulled up a slide that cited research stating that 36 million Americans are completely edentulous, meaning without teeth, and that 178 million are partially edentulous. But even so, Marks said that there’s an “astronomical” number of people who are still not wearing dentures.

“Most people don’t think about this until it happens to you or someone you know,” he said about missing a tooth. “It’s not always that easy or cheap to fix this with implants.”

According to a survey, only 8% of dentures are digitally fabricated, which means most are still made by hand using analog methods.

Marks said that even though 3D printing is “becoming more of a buzzword” in the dental industry, most of the materials “have largely stayed the same,” and based on the same technologies and principles. Extrusion-based AM is not used often in dentistry, and powder bed fusion (PBF) is mostly limited to metals, not polymers.

Marks went through a brief history of 3D printing in dentistry. Ubiquitous applications include impression trays, digital models, and resin patterns for casting, while digital dentures are currently happening and things like clear aligners, temporary and long-term crowns and bridges, and multimaterial printing are in development for use in the future.

He said that the ubiquitous ones have one thing in common – they’re used once and then thrown away.

“We’re still not doing much with crowns and bridges,” Marks said. “Clear aligners are the holy grail, and direct printing of the aligner is still a ways off, though all companies are probably working on it.”

Aronfa’s dental 3D printer is the r.Pod, which is a modified version of a Makerbot clone. The dual extrusion filament system is optimized for all of the company’s thermoplastic materials.

Then it was Wainwright’s turn to talk about dental 3D printing at Formlabs. He agreed with Marks that “FDM and thermoplastics have an incredible place” in the dental industry.

When the company was founded in 2012, its goal was to make professional-scale 3D printing accessible and affordable for everyone. Now Formlabs employs over 500 people at its multiple locations around the world, and has sold more than 50,000 3D printers.

Wainwright explained that the Form 3B desktop printer, optimized for biocompatible materials, has many dental-specific features, materials, and software, in addition to automated washing and post-curing systems “to help tie in end-to-end dental workflows.”

In addition, Formlabs offers dental materials, and launched its dental service plan (DSP) along with the Form 3B in 2019. Because there are high demands, the 3D printing process is complex, and the DSP offers support.

“We are committed to 3D printing for dental,” Wainwright stated. “We have over 20 people in the dental business unit. But we have the resources of a 500 person-plus company.”

While most are made overseas, Formlabs Dental is now developing photopolymers in my home state, since the company acquired its main material supplier, Ohio-based Spectra Photopolymers, last year. Formlabs’ biocompatible Surgical Guide Resin is the company’s first material made in an ISO-certified facility.

“It’s exciting to have intimate control over design aspects,” Wainwright said.

The image above is an example of the Surgical Guide material. Wainright explained that the light touch supports are very easy to remove, which means that there isn’t a lot of time wasted in post-processing.

He said that 36% of dental labs in the US use 3D printing technology, which makes them very “cutting edge.”

“There’s a ton of market opportunity for dental to go digital,” he said. “We have 30% of this market – we’re the biggest player in dental laboratories and will continue to grow, but compared to Invisalign, it’s not really that much.”

So far, Formlabs has 3D printed more than 10,000,000 parts for the dental industry. Wainwright predicts that in ten years or less, “everything in dental will be 3D printed.”

He reiterated to the room that Formlabs has “a whole host of materials” for dental applications, four of which are solely for fabricating models, which are “really critical to dentists.” As dental offices adopt intraoral scanning technology, it’s helpful to take the scan data and turn it into something physical. Wainwright mentioned that Formlabs’ Grey Resin can achieve fast, accurate prints, and that it’s good for thermoforming as well.

The company’s Draft material is “accurate enough to create models in less than 20 minutes,” which makes it perfect for creating retainers on the same day as a patient’s appointment. Model Resin is good for accurately restoring dental models, while the biocompatible Dental LT Clear Resin can be used to print occlusal splints in addition to models.

Formlabs’ Digital Dentures solution comes in multiple shades to match a patient’s teeth, and a full set can be 3D printed for less than $10, which Wainwright says is “really a game-changer.”

“We want to make treatments easier, better, and faster,” he said in conclusion.

“3D printing is still very early in dental, this is just the beginning. The materials will just keep getting better, it’s an exciting place to be.”

Then it was time to eat lunch and chat with other attendees…or, as I did, inhale food and then find a spot in the hallway near an outlet and get a little work done.

After the lunch break, I sat in on my last panel at AMS 2020, “3D materials for dental applications.” It was a panel of one – Gabi Janssen, Business Development Manager and Global Leader, Healthcare Segment Additive Manufacturing, for DSM Additive Manufacturing. She presented on digitalization in healthcare and dentistry.

She tried to play a short movie about what the company does, but due to technical difficulties there was no sound, so she narrated instead, explaining that DSM is “a material company” that also does a lot with nutrition – a brand behind the brands.

The company also has a biomedical department, which helps deliver advanced healing solutions for AM applications, including bioceramics, collagen, polyethylenes, polyurethanes, and hydrophilic coating.

“What we have on the market is filaments,” Janssen said, pulling up a list of the dental materials DSM offers.

Several of the company’s products are geared toward the healthcare market, such as Somos BioClear for dental guides and anatomical models.

“So how do we develop a new material?” Janssen asked. “We’ve discussed 510(k) clearance materials, and you have to work all together. We look at the application, and determine what we need – printer, software, material – to fit what the end user needs.”

She pulled up a slide of the major market drivers in 3D dental printing – performance, mass customization, and time-saving.

“What kind of applications do we have in dentistry?” she asked.

To answer her own question, she showed a brief history of digital dentistry, starting with the first 3D printed part in 1983, moving on to DSM’s 3D printing resin in 1988, the beginning of aligner manufacturing in 1997 and medical modeling in 2000, and DSM’s dental materials passing USP VI in 2008. For 2020 and beyond, hopefully we’ll see the availability of direct aligner materials.

“I think there’s still a lot of data needed to show it’s good,” Janssen said about where the industry currently stands. “Reimbursement is difficult, we need this data to back it up.”

The topic of FDA clearance obviously came up a lot at AMS 2020. Janssen said that DSM has a resin that’s certified for use in dental bite guards, and a general purpose resin that isn’t certified but can be used to make FDA-cleared aligners.

“The end device needs the clearance,” she reminded the room.

She brought up how Materialise was the first company to receive FDA clearance for software about 3D printing anatomical models for diagnostic use. Materialise Mimics inPrint translates the data for the model to the 3D printer. Then, combined with a specific printer and material, it’s possible to fabricate “the model they actually want within a certain safety margin.”

“But, if you want to print medical models, just for patient communication, it does not need to be cleared, because it’s not a medical device,” she explained.

The slide above explains what makes a medical device controlled, i.e. needs clearance, while the below slide lists some very useful definitions, including biocompatibility and risk.

Janssen then brought up the “sometimes confusing standards,” such as ISO standards.

“Depending on what we do with the material, and how long it goes in the mouth, there are different risk associations,” she explained.

In terms of product classification, Class I is the least risky. But, the higher you go up in class, the more research is required to show that the 3D printable material won’t harm patients.

She said that the regulatory industry is changing to have more focus on software, with higher regulations for that software, because it “needs to be validated in combination with the material and equipment.” Additionally, there is more of a focus these days on understanding and managing risks, as well as reducing animal testing…always good news!

When choosing the proper filaments for your workflow, you should start by working with the dentist on treatment planning. Then, once the patient’s mouth has been scanned, you can create the design in the software. Then the build has to be prepared, which takes some patience and precision – you need to enter the optimal print parameters, and add supports if they’re needed. Then, after the print is complete, it needs to be removed from the bed, supports (if there are any) need to be taken off, and there may even be grinding and painting involved before the final quality check.

“Many process variables can impact the safety of the final end product,” Janssen noted. “So you need to understand the effect the material can have on patients.”

Finally, there are also plenty of steps to follow to ensure material safety in development, so it’s important to follow the instructions your supplier gives you.

Then it was time for some questions. One attendee asked why dentists aren’t all adopting AM, since some products, like mouthguards, look pretty easy to make in the back office.

“This may look easy, but it’s actually not,” Janssen explained.

She went on to say that the product or device may not always “come out right the first time.” There are a lot of parameters to look at, and potentially tweak, in order to achieve the desired result. A lot of people can get frustrated if it doesn’t work right the first time.

“What we’re doing now – if you bring your design to us, we’ll do the tweaking for you, as our software has all of the maximum and minimum numbers needed for parameters,” she said.

3D printing thought leader and author John Hornick offered his take on the question, as he has some experience with the matter. He explained that most dental offices are private, though many dentists are consolidating their practices into larger ones, “and their appetite for spending money on these machines may go up.” But, SmarTech doesn’t think the average dentist will spend that much for larger, more expensive 3D printers. That’s why some companies, like Arfona, are working on simpler material extrusion systems.

Another attendee said that it seems like 3D printing companies are just throwing technology at various markets and praying that it sticks. Dentists want to be dentists, and not spend their time dealing with issues like print parameters and melted filament.

“We, as technology providers, need to raise our game and make this work for these people,” Janssen stated.

I think that’s a great note on which to end my AMS 2020 coverage – we, the AM technology providers, need to show the rest of the world how 3D printing can work for their industries.

We hope to see you next winter for Additive Manufacturing Strategies 2021!

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The post AMS 2020: Panels on 3D Printing Materials and Applications for Dental Industry appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

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