Medical & Dental

Renishaw and Cardiff University corner niche in 3D dental market

Renishaw is working with the Cardiff University Dental Hospital (CUDH) to develop 3D printed Cobalt Chrome (CoCr) removable partial dentures.

Though 3D printed dental and medical implants have been in the news lately, more affordable removable partial dentures, which do not require invasive surgery, have seen consistent year-on-year growth.

CoCr 3D printed removable partial dentures. Photo via Renishaw.
CoCr 3D printed removable partial dentures. Photo via Renishaw.

Streamlining workflows

Currently, removable partial dentures are produced in wax or digitally designed and then manually cast. The many variables involved in making detailed dental casts result in a significant number of miscasts. According to a case study by Renishaw, industry feedback suggests that 14 to 20 percent of dental castings require remakes.

CUDH and Renishaw are using 3D printing to make the process of producing removable partial dentures more streamlined and cost-effective, reducing waste and enabling easy refinements and iteration.

David Cruickshank, a PhD student in digital denture design, has been working with Renishaw at CUDH as part of his PhD thesis. Also working on 3D printed RPDs with Renishaw at CUDH are Roger Maggs, Senior Chief Dental Laboratory Manager, Liam Addy, Consultant in Restorative Dentistry and Paul Clark, Senior Dental Technologist.

Eliminating wax casting

Geomagic is the engineering software brand of 3D Systems, a manufacturer of 3D printers. The Renishaw/CUDH team use Geomagic’s Freeform CAD software with a Touch X haptic device, designed to provide CAD users with “more precise positioning input and high-fidelity force-feedback output.” 

A Renishaw DS20 optical scanner is used to create initial dental scans, whilst a Renishaw AM250 metal 3D printer fabricates the CoCr RPDs. As explained in the case study, “Once the master model [has been] scanned it is imported directly into the Freeform software. From here the operator can start to identify the insertion axis and block out undercuts.”

The time consuming process of using wax to create casts has been entirely replaced by fabrication using the AM250 metal 3D printign systems. Doing away with casting has led to significant efficiency improvements, “The major benefit for CUDH,” continues the study, “is that they [can] simply send the .STL data to Renishaw for manufacture, and can work on the next job instead of having to work through the highly skilled casting process.”

Designing RPDs with Geomagic's Freeform software and the Touch X. Photo via Renishaw.
Designing RPDs with Geomagic’s Freeform software and the Touch X. Photo via Renishaw.

Dentistry a critical market for 3D printing

As the additive manufacturing market diversifies, many companies are noting a higher demand for solution’s specifically related to dentistry.

This year, 3D Systems recently released the NextDent 5100 3D printer and, at the time of launch, 3D Printing Industry spoke to 3D Systems CEO Vyomesh Joshi about why dentistry has become such a “critical market.”

In 2017, Prodways unveiled the ProMaker LD-10 3D printer for dental, based on the company’s MOVINGLight technology. Now, in an important landmark for the company, two LD-10s have been sold to a leading North-American dental laboratory.

In materials, Carbon released 3D printable DENTCA resins, with FDA approval.

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Featured image shows CoCr 3D printed removable partial dentures. Photo via Renishaw.