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    Making 3D printing accessible for all labs

    How the Formlabs Form 2 3D printer helped one lab achieve an ideal workflow—at an affordable price.

    Near the end of last year, Robertson Dental Lab relied solely on their five milling units to create dental restorations. Nearly four months later, they are preparing to invest in an equal number of 3D printers. With three so far, they are well on their way.

    Robertson Dental Lab, located in Lompoc, California, purchased a Formlabs Form 2 3D printer in December and has gotten two more since then.

    Because it has completely changed their workflow, says general manager Paul Lamontagne, they plan to get two more soon for a total of five. At that point, the lab will have an equal number of 3D printers and milling units.

    The Form 1, Form 2’s predecessor, is the world’s best-selling printer, so one can imagine the possibilities for the upgraded Form 2, especially at a sub-$4,000 price point. The Form 2 printer is $3,499, which makes it easier for a productivity-focused lab like Robertson Dental Lab to invest in a few.

    Trending article: 5 workflows changed by 3D printing

    “When we began to look at digital printers, which are expensive and can do a lot, we decided to stay with a lower-cost printer at a higher quality so we could have more printers and be more versatile,” says Lamontagne. “We knew that if we bought one printer, we would be tying up our work into that one printer. Even with a larger bill plate, we would be committing our work to one build plate. With the Form 2, we can run multiple cases at different times for less money. That gives us greater flexibility and greater throughput. We can use different products in different printers. It’s much more cost-effective.”

    By incorporating three separate 3D printers into their workflow so far, the lab is able to use each printer for a different material.

    “There are five materials we can use with Formlabs,” says Lamontagne. “For example, what we use for models is different than what we use for partial frames. One printer will use a certain material, another will use another material, and a third will have a different material. Once we add more, multiple printers will be using the same material. We’re able to fill the build plate, and when we have enough to fill the next build plate, we’ll start it afterward, cleaning and curing in between.”

    While Lamontagne currently only uses the printer to print models and custom trays from impressions and digital scans, he is currently testing their efficiency with surgical guides and partial dentures. “They’re not in production yet, but we’re trying to decide if we’re going to use the Form 2 Printer for that,” Lamontagne says. “We might do surgical guides in the future, depending on how that affects the workflow.”

    At the moment, Lamontagne’s lab outsources removables, but his team is looking at bringing that workflow into the lab. “We’re still in the phase of testing the designs and how we want to go about the process,” he says. “We’ll know by the end of April if we’re going to integrate.” He said the lab will “most likely” be integrating partial dentures into their workflow.

    Continue to page two to read more...

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