With a newfound shift to 3D printing at scale, the author shares 6 reasons why now is a better time than ever for dental labs to make this investment.
3D printing for dental labs has made considerable progress since its first introduction more than 20 years ago. The first applications to be 3D printed were dental models and surgical guides which are still the bulk of 3D printed parts. However, the adoption of 3D printed dentures, and milled dentures, has remained low due to technological and economical limitations.
This need can now be filled through new additive manufacturing solutions. With this newfound shift to 3D printing at scale, there are 6 reasons why now is a better time than ever for dental labs to invest in 3D printing of dentures. This includes the increased productivity for skilled dental technicians, cost savings, a streamlined workflow, more accurate dentures, high esthetics, and better overall service provided to lab clients.
According to market research firm, iData, there were 4.2 million full dentures created in the U.S. in 2021–and more than 18 million worldwide. However, according to a recent survey by LMT (Lab Management Today), barely 5 percent of U.S. dentures were created digitally. These numbers may be low, but the tide is changing.
Larger populations requiring dental prosthetics and faster turnaround will drive strong demand, which can be filled more easily through new additive manufacturing solutions. With this newfound shift to 3D printing at scale, here is more detail on the 6 reasons why now is a better time than ever for dental labs to invest in 3D printing of dentures.
Smart Factory Setup for Dental Labs
Another benefit on top of the 6 reasons alreadyaddressed comes from new software platforms that allow labs to scale production efficiently through management tools of several 3D printing technologies. Fleet management, performance analysis and remote tools are all available features that contribute to a smoother workflow. In some cases, application quality and printer capacity can be improved over time using software upgrades that tweak the implementation of new and existing resins on the printer—essentially creating a new concept of hardware enabled by software.
Investing in 3D printing today will allow the labs that invested in the technology to automate their production, and in the future, ease volume and scale up.
Looking forward, investing in 3D printing for dentures can create significant efficiencies and improved offerings for dental labs. It is a more cost-effective alternative to traditional dentures, which have historically taken significantly longer to manufacture and required more alterations than those that are digitally produced. Ultimately, taking this approach ensures that dental labs can produce dentures faster and more accurately than ever before, staying at the top of their profession. That is certainly something to smile about.