Medical & Dental

HP and SmileDirectClub to 3D print 20 million 3D printed clear aligner dental molds per year

HP, manufacturers of the award-winning Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printers, and SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based teledentistry company, have announced a partnership to increase the production of its customized clear aligners at RAPID + TCT

“SmileDirectClub is digitally transforming the traditional orthodontics industry, making it more personal, affordable, and convenient for millions of consumers to achieve a smile they’ll love,” said Alex Fenkell, co-founder of SmileDirectClub.

“HP’s breakthrough 3D printing and data intelligence platform makes this level of disruption possible for us, pushing productivity, quality, and manufacturing predictability to unprecedented levels, all with economics that allows us to pass on savings to the consumers seeking treatment using our teledentistry platform.”

3D printed clear aligner molds manufactured on a HP industrial Multi Jet Fusion system. Photo via SmileDirectClub.
3D printed clear aligner molds manufactured on an HP industrial Multi Jet Fusion system. Photo via SmileDirectClub.

Disrupting the dental sector 

Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub creates personalized clear aligners in collaboration with its digital network of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists. The company has reportedly served over 500,000 customers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, and intends to expand to Australia and the UK this year. In comparison a competitor, California-based Align Technology is offering Invisalign to over 45 countries where it is treating more than 2.5 million patients.

According to SmileDirectClub, approximately 80% of people in the U.S. could benefit from orthodontic care, yet only 1% receive it each year. This lack of access has been attributed to the cost of dental care and absence of orthodontists for certain treatments.

Thus, the company has partnered with HP to expand the reach of inexpensive, personalized clear aligners and other teeth-straightening treatments. Christoph Schell, President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing at HP Inc, added:

“SmileDirectClub and HP are reinventing the future of orthodontics, pushing the boundaries of customized 3D mass production and democratizing access to affordable, high-quality teeth straightening for millions of people.”

“Through this collaboration, HP is helping SmileDirectClub accelerate its growth, enabling a new era of personalized consumer experiences only made possible by industrial 3D printing and digital manufacturing.”

A custom clear aligner is delivered to a customer's home and the teeth-straightening process can be tracked via SmileClubDirect's app. Photo via SmileDirectClub.
A custom clear aligner is delivered to a customer’s home and the teeth-straightening process can be tracked via SmileClubDirect’s app. Photo via SmileDirectClub.

50,000 3D printed aligner molds a day

As a result of this partnership, SmileDirectClub has more than doubled its investment in HP 3D printing solutions. As such, the company will deploy 49 HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems running 24/7, to produce more than 50,000 unique mouth molds a day, an estimated 20 million molds over the next 12 months. In contrast, according to Joseph Hogan, CEO of Align Technology, over 500,000 unique 3D printed parts for Invisalign clear aligners are produced per day using 3D Systems technology.

Furthermore, HP and SmileDirectClub have announced a new recycling program, where excess 3D material and existing processed plastic mouth molds are recycled and converted into pellets for traditional injection molding. This collaboration has made SmileDirectClub’s production facility the largest HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Production Factory in the US.

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Featured image shows personalized clear aligners. Photo via SmileDirectClub.