The Digital Printing Center
3D Printing Technology in Dentistry
Two different 3D printing technologies are currently commercially available to dental laboratories. Both work by selectively exposing the liquid resin to a curing light source to form very thin layers of solid material. The layers are stacked upon one another to create the final 3-dimensional object. The main difference between the two technologies comes down to the type of light source used to solidify the resin. Stereolithography (SLA) uses a UV laser as its light source to solidify the resin material. Digital Light Projector (DLP) technology employs a digital projector set up in a tight grid of square pixels to project emitted light thereby curing the resin material. Stomadent employs 3D printers utilizing stereolithography technology in its digital workflow.
What is the Quality of 3D Printed Restorations?
With either technology, the accuracy and precision of the final dental restoration depends on many different factors including the overall quality of the 3D printer itself, the properties of the raw material, the CAD software used to translate the design to the manufacturing process, how the restoration is handled and processed post-manufacturing, and how well calibrated and integrated all of these systems are. Over the past few years, both the quality and precision of finished restorations have increased exponentially allowing restorations to be printed with little to no chairside adjustments. Printed restorations have the advantage of having no polymerization shrinkage. This results in a denture with superior fit compared with acrylic monomer-based dentures.
Like traditional methods, all 3D-produced restorations require further finishing by hand after processing in order to be used as a finished restoration. The printed parts are washed in solvents to remove excess resin. Most parts need to be cleared of manufacturing sprues. Depending on the application, some assembly of components printed with different resins may be necessary. Finally, finishing and progressive polishing are necessary to make the appliance suitable for delivery and use.
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