Manufacturing dental crowns, prostheses, or bridges using conventional processes such as milling is complex, costly, and takes a long time. This is faster, more simple, and more effective when using additive manufacturing. The dental technology supplier CADSPEED is the proof of this; it produces dentures for many European countries using a TruPrint 1000 with multilaser principle. The company is therefore a pioneer in the dental industry.
Like all dental technicians, Hindrik Dehnbostel, owner of CADSPEED, has a space problem. This is because corners and edges are hard to produce using the milling machine – the tooth is too small for this and the requirements are too high. Furthermore, the tools do not reach everywhere and occasionally break. The consequence of this is reworking. It can therefore take several weeks until the patient receives the denture.
Additive production systems are not familiar with these types of problems. Since the component is built up layer-by-layer and software controls the process, even delicate structures can be achieved with ease. Laser metal fusion (LMF) also saves material. In conventional methods, dental technicians first produce the basic shape and then hollow it out. Up to 80 percent of the material lands up in the trash. LMF only requires as much powder as is necessary for the component. A further advantage is that 3D printing is significantly faster when production hours are compared. This is because a dental technician normally requires around 20 minutes per tooth. Up to 70 tooth units can be created per run in two to three hours on a platform using additive technology.
At the end of 2017, CADSPEED permanently installed a TruPrint 1000 from TRUMPF with the multilaser principle in their factory. Two laser beams melt the denture into shape at the same time. This shortens the company's process duration hugely. Dehnbostel tested the machine for three months and then bought it. Since then, the system has been running in three-shift operation five days a week. "The system works reliably and robustly," states the dental technician.
Although the additive technology provides many advantages for dental technology, the industry is slow to catch on according to Dehnbostel. "Many dental laboratories are worried that it will make their work redundant. But the new technologies are a blessing for the industry," states the entrepreneur. The CADSPEED boss is sure that companies will not be able to avoid using 3D printing in the long term: "One day, the patient will decide how they want their denture to be produced."