3D printing is a rapidly growing technology in numerous fields, and a rapidly growing arena in dental laboratories. Dental 3D printers feature lights or lasers that polymerize a liquid or fuse a powder with the computer-guided precision required to produce small objects with intricate details. They are capable of producing models, parts and even complete restorations out of a range of materials. Adding a 3D printer to a busy lab or practice can increase efficiency, and there are a wide range of printers fit for different scales of production, lab sizes, and specific tasks.
Stereolithography (SLA) printers fabricate using a wide range of photopolymers leading to increased functionality. They could produce temporary crowns and bridges, surgical guides, night guards, retainers or models with accuracy reaches to 24 micron.
Advantages of stereolithography
High precision and fine detail: due to the great thinness of each layer applied in stereolithography (0.05 to 0.10 mm) and the fine laser beam, it is possible to obtain prototypes with a very realistic finish and complex geometric shapes.
Quality of the part: despite the use of substitution materials (resin), parts made with stereolithography have good functional surface quality.
Smooth finish: In stereolithography, the resulting parts have a smooth finish, with the option to choose between a number of resins for different renderings.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
Digital Light Processing (DLP) uses photopolymers to fabricate models from digital impressions, castable restorations, surgical guides, splints, and even short-term temporaries. Due to the speed and accuracy of DLP printing, this form of 3D printing will only continue to grow within dentistry.
Advantages of Digital Light Processing
- produce parts with very high dimensional accuracy and with intricate details
- very smooth surface finish, making them ideal for visual prototypes.
- materials are available, such as clear, flexible and castable resins.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is in an additive manufacturing method specially developed for 3D printing metal alloys. SLM materials consist of finely atomized powder and fused at a higher energy density during the process, ultimately allowing for stronger parts. The SLM printer uses biocompatible metal alloys for fabrication of metal copings, bridges, partial dentures and abutment.
Advantages of Selective Laser Melting
- Each patient is different and each solution must be customized for that specific patient, allowing for best fit and comfort
- Wide application and diversity of printing material
- 3D Printing and digitalisation can drastically reduce the amount of time and number of steps involved
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) works by locally sintering powder, based on a 3D model layer by layer until the part is completed. First of all, there is no need for supports when printing overhanging as the powder itself provides the necessary support. Second, parts can be created out of a wide selection of materials. And lastly, complexity isn’t an issue as long as you can remove the not sintered powder.
Advantages of Selective Laser Sintering
- Prints using a wide range of polymeric materials
- Strong and accurate parts.
- Self-supported process.
- Printed object may have full mechanical functionality