uLab Systems, a digital dental company based in California (CA), has announced a commercial milestone for its U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared dental aligner planning software, which allows for the same-day 3D printing of clear orthodontic appliances. The company has revealed that it has had over 13,000 cases planned with its “chairside” dental movement planning software, since launching a pilot program to receive market feedback for it in the summer of 2018.
Each of the aligner, hybrid and combo dental cases planned with the uLab software have been carried out by orthodontists within their offices, and some have utilized 3D printing to offer same day aligners with the models planned with the software. Dr. Chad Rowan of Rowan Orthodontics in Merced, CA, one of the early pilot orthodontists of the software, comments: “We have loved having uLab as a partner in our practice […] Just yesterday we had a former patient that was home from college who lost her retainers and experienced significant relapse.”
“She was returning to school in Arizona that day, and between her morning appointment at 11 we were able to reconstruct her smile in uLab and manufacture her 12 aligners before we closed in the afternoon at 5.”
Designing, 3D printing and finishing dental aligners within the office
uLab Systems was founded in 2015 with the aim of providing “the next generation of digital dental software to enable chairside treatment planning and same-day [3D] printing of clear orthodontic appliances”. With the uLab platform, orthodontists can import patients’ intra-oral 3D digital scans into the software, where dental professionals are then able to determine the orthodontic treatment required for their patient. Orthodontists can then design and create dental movement and treatment plans for aligners using the uLab software within a short period of time – reportedly in as little as 10 minutes.
Intended for use with 3D printers, the software is then able to export the 3D dental model as an STL file to allow the creation of aligner trays and retainers directly in the dental professional’s office using a 3D printer, potentially within the same day. uLab’s software is reportedly capable of working with many 3D printers on the market, however, 3D printers validated by the uLab company itself includes the Objet 500 and 260VS Dental selection from Stratasys; Carbon M2; Vida and Micro XL from EnvisionTec, and the Formlabs Form 2.
As part of the uLab process, the company also offers the uContour, an automated post-processing machine for trimming and initial polish of the 3D printed aligners. uLab will be showcasing the latest version of its software alongside a preview of upcoming versions and features at the 2019 American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) tradeshow at booth #1247, as well as demonstrating its uCountour machine. The 2019 AAO will take place in Los Angeles, CA, from May 3 to May 7.
Charlie Wen, President and CTO of uLab states, “We are thrilled to see our vision of giving control back to the orthodontists come to life in the marketplace. We are constantly working to make better movement planning software for efficient in-office printing.”
3D printing software for fast and reliable dental appliances
uLab is utilizing the capabilities of 3D design and 3D printing to create high quality dental appliances in a short period of time. Various other digital dental companies have also realized the potential of 3D printing and design for the market, establishing software programs to help dental professionals model and produce orthodontic appliances for their patients.
For example, the Orchestrate 3D Treatment Planning Software from Orchestrate Orthodontic Technologies (O3D), a dental digital solutions provider also based in CA, allows for case analysis, setup and staging, and the exporting to 3D print for production of clear aligners. The software is FDA approved, and is compatible with a range of scanners and additive manufacturing systems.
Furthermore, AGE Solutions, an Italian dental software developer, has partnered with Chinese 3D printing company Shining 3D to create a new orthodontics design software for the dental market. Based on AGE Solutions’ Maestro 3D Ortho Studio software package, the software uses high-quality 3D patient-specific data to support orthodontic procedures.
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Featured image shows the uLab software. Photo via uLab Systems.