Structo, a Singapore based dental 3D printer OEM has partnered with California based digital dentistry company uLab Systems to streamline the production of orthodontic clear aligners.
Announced at the AAO (American Academy Ophthalmology) 2019 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, the collaboration will integrate Structo’s dental-specific DentaForm 3D printer with uLab’s uDesign aligner treatment planning software, enhancing uLab’s uPrint ecosystem.
Joe Breeland, uLab’s Chief Commercial Officer said, “DentaForm’s high throughput capabilities of printing up to 10 arches in 30 minutes is exactly what existing uLab customers need to help them with their in-office aligner manufacturing.”
3D printing clear aligners
Structo first introduced its dental 3D printers in 2014, focusing on models and patient-specific devices. Its proprietary MSLA (Mask Stereolithography) technology claims to deliver greater speeds than other SLA 3D printers on the market. German clear dental aligner brand ClearCaps is one of the company’s notable partners, which last year reported using the DentaForm system to produce around 250 models every 24 hours.
In this new partnership, the DentaForm system will now be integrated with uLab’s software. Intended for use with 3D printers, the uLab platform enables orthodontists to import patients’ intra-oral 3D digital scans into the software.
Orthodontists can design and create dental movement and treatment plans for aligners using the uLab software within a short period of time. The software is then able to export the 3D dental model directly to 3D printers, located in the dental professional’s office, in preparation for vacuum forming and trimming.
Last month uLab revealed that over 13,000 individual cases had utilised its “chairside” dental movement planning software since its launch in the summer of 2018.
Structo’s DentaForm is now the seventh 3D printer validated by uLab, others include the Objet 500 and 260VS Dental selection from Stratasys; Carbon M2; Vida and Micro XL from EnvisionTec, and the Formlabs Form 2.
Developing dental applications with Structo technology
The partnership with uLab will also focus on developing applications for the rest of Structo’s portfolio. This includes Structo’s Velox desktop 3D printer and automated Elements system.
The Elements system has been engineered as a fully integrated ‘factory in a box’ dental lab solution combining print, wash and cure processes in a single machine. Structo says the system is capable of printing up to 500 dental models per day which it believes will ultimately allow dental professional to lower manufacturing costs and eliminate errors.
Commenting on the technology, Dhruv Sahgal, Structo’s Chief Commercial Officer said, “Our vision for Elements is to build application-specific modules that can streamline every single dental appliance manufacturing process.”
“The first of such modules we are currently working on is a solution for the orthodontic clear aligner application to automate the vacuum forming and trimming processes of the aligners right after the models are printed and post-processed in the production module.”
Currently, these processes are done manually, by automating these it will lower the cost and reduce manufacturing errors and inconsistencies.
Dhruv adds, “To be able to tap on uLab’s expertise in this area ensures that we can deliver on that promise of fully automating the entire aligner manufacturing workflow for our customers.”
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Featured image shows a aligner produced using uLab 3D dental software. Photo via uLab Systems.