Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced plans to advance the use of 3D printing in dentistry and healthcare at this weeks Arab Health Congress (AHC) in Dubai. This includes plans for the Dental Services department to make greater use of 3D printing for dentistry by the end of this year.

The Arab Health Congress also saw a number of 3D printing companies showcase new innovations. In order to understand these ambitious plans from DHA, we take a look at current dental 3D printing technology.

Also at AHC a partnership between the Middle East Dental Laboratory and local industrial 3D printing company Sinterix was made. The partnership aims to create 3D printed teeth. The metal 3D printing company showcased a 14 unit framework made in cobalt chrome last week and successfully fitted last weekend.

There is strong potential for 3D printing in the dental industry and we’ve seen many different companies approaching the market. North American additive manufacturing company, 3D Systems, have just recently acquired dental company Vertex-Global. The company hope to combine their impressive Figure 4 system with the materials created by Vertex-Global’s subsidiary NextDent.

Elsewhere, British 3D printers Renishaw are exploring the field of dentistry and were showing us their offerings at the 3D Medical Expo in Maastricht earlier this week.

Renishaw's cobalt chrome 3D printed models. Photo by Beau Jackson.

Renishaw’s cobalt chrome 3D printed models. Photo by Beau Jackson.

How Sinterix 3D print teeth

The process begins with using an intra-oral scanner to create a 3D digital model of the patient’s mouth. Following this, the designs are sent to Sinterix who handle the 3D printing aspect of the procedure. The Middle East Dental Laboratory boasted about the speed and accuracy of the technology. Managing Director Thomas Claesen explained that “the printing time is about four hours.” While a “traditional process might take two or three days.”

Dr Hamda Mesmar, director of Dental Services Department at the DHA, spoke at Arab Health regarding the plans to begin 3D printing teeth later this year. He explained the benefit of using 3D,

The 3D image helps us with accurate planning and precision especially for complicated dental procedures and surgeries. Patients will greatly benefit from the use of this technology as it helps in better patient outcomes as well as substantially reduces waiting time and cost of care.

Sinterix's metal 3D printer. Photo via al arabiya.

Sinterix’s metal 3D printer. Photo via al arabiya.

More 3D printing options for dentists

While these companies are using large-scale industrial machines which can be very expensive. There are machines which can be used for dentistry at a more affordable level.

Italian company DWS have produced the XFAB SLA 3D printer which offers industrial technology contained in a small desktop machine. The 3D printer is capable of printing dental models using resins created especially for dental application. Another company who produce SLA machines capable of printing dental models are MiiCraft 3D printer. They have several resin-based machines that be used for 3D printing dental application as well as jewelry.

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Nominations are closing soon for the 1st Annual 3D Printing Industry Awards. Make your nominations here.  

Featured image shows the 14-unit cobalt chrome framework produced by Sinterix. Photo via Khaleej TImes. 

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