Medical & Dental

Dentistry made easier with Stratasys’ and 3Shape’s new automated 3D printing color workflow

3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and 3Shape, Denmark-based 3D scanning and software company announced a new color workflow for automated 3D printing employing 3Shape’s Dental System software and the Stratasys J5 DentaJet 3D printer.

Dental labs can capture color and geometric information of a patient’s mouth using an intraoral scanner and 3Shape software. The data can then be imported into Stratasys’ 3D printer, which can 3D print accurate, personalized full-color dental models.

“In dentistry, detailed attention to aesthetics is critical, but accurately matching tooth color, in particular, is tricky and time-consuming,” said Rune Fisker, 3Shape Senior Vice President for Product Strategy. “For the first time, we’re automating that entire workflow for customers using 3Shape and the J5 DentaJet printer. Dental labs will be able to easily harness the full capabilities of the only dental printer able to create highly realistic replicas of the patient’s mouth from a TRIOS scan.”

Stratasys J5 DentaJet 3D printer. Image via Stratasys.
Stratasys J5 DentaJet 3D printer. Image via Stratasys.

How does this technology serve the customers?

“The darker color of a tooth stump and the translucency of a crown make color matching with the rest of a patient’s teeth a real challenge,” said Ron Ellenbogen, Stratasys’ Director of Dental Products.

The J5 DentaJet 3D printer allows dental specialists to expand production by printing large mixed batches of dental parts within the same tray at the same time, such as implant models, surgical guides, and gingiva masks. PolyJet technology guarantees geometric precision and accuracy for these printed dental applications, and it is well-known for its full-color printing capabilities, which include realistic monolithic full-color dental parts, says the company.

The new digital workflow provided by 3Shape allows users to utilize these combined functionalities completely. According to 3Shape, its Dental System provides a “best-in-class” workflow and effortless connection between dental practices and labs. The most recent software version, 2022.1, now supports the open 3MF file standard, capturing geometry and color information from intraoral scans.

The 3MF Consortium, of which Stratasys is a founding member, publishes an open-source file format known as 3MF. The format enhances workflow by containing all model information in a single package, including voxel-level control of the model’s interior and metadata. Stratasys is the only company offering a PANTONE-Validated full-color, multi-material 3D printer that can fully utilize the functionalities of the 3MF format.

“Adding 3MF support into 3Shape Dental System lets our customer harness the color capabilities of Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers to easily match a restoration’s true color. This new turnkey color workflow is an important step in expanding the color applications available on the J5 DentaJet platform,” added Stratasys’ Director of Dental Products.

3Shape's Dental System software. Image via 3Shape.
3Shape’s Dental System software. Image via 3Shape.

Streamlining dentistry through additive manufacturing 

Previously, researchers at India’s MNR Dental College and Hospital devised a technique for 3D printing a toothbrush which is designed primarily to be simpler to hold and use for people with dexterity impairments. Dentists have developed a method for modeling and 3D printing custom 2-in-1 toothbrushes and interproximal brushes from PLA using putty imprints of users’ hands. The team claims the resulting implements are not only durable and water-resistant, but they also make brushing teeth easier, potentially increasing the self-esteem of handicapped users by decreasing their reliance on others.

Moreover, using 3D printing, a group of interdisciplinary researchers at KU Leuven University moved one step closer to regrowing teeth from the root. Dental conditions caused by trauma and developmental abnormalities can frequently affect developing permanent teeth, especially in children, causing tissue or even whole tooth loss. To combat this, dental tissue engineering has emerged as a potential means of repair, regeneration, and even tooth replacement through the fabrication of bioengineered “toothroot.”

In comparison, a competitor, California-based Align Technology, offered Invisalign to over 45 countries and treated over 2.5 million patients. Joseph Hogan CEO of Align Technology said that the company 3D printed over 500,000 unique parts ideal for Invisalign clear aligners per day by employing 3D Systems’ technology. 

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Feature image shows Stratasys and 3Shape collaborate to create 3D printing color workflow. Image via 3Shape.