The New York start-up PostProcess Technologies has partnered with one of the largest orthodontic laboratories in North America. Together they will work on the optimization and automation of post-porcessing dental 3D prints.
According to the Wohlers Associates report, post-processing is still a barrier to adaptation of incremental technologies in business. According to the data contained in the publication, as much as 26% of the costs of producing details using the additive technique consume finishing works – removing excess material (resin or powders), removing supports, or sanding / smoothing surfaces. 14% of the costs are consumed by work preceding 3D printing. The very process of creating details (including consumables) is less than 60% of the cost of production.
Not surprisingly, companies focus on optimizing the activities carried out after the actual 3D printing process. The solutions of the American company PostProcess Technologies streamline the entire manufacturing process. Their RADOR device is used to smooth the surface and remove excess unbaked powder from the surface of 3D prints made in SLS technology. According to the representative of the orthodontic laboratory cooperating with PostProcess Technologies, the implemented solution not only allowed to increase production efficiency, but also increased the quality of the implemented product with a significantly lower involvement of human resources.
The laboratory deals with, among others production of aligners, i.e. transparent overlays on the teeth, which are an increasingly popular alternative to orthodontic appliances. The advantage of the solution is geometry adapted to the individual shape of the patient’s teeth.
Manufacturers have found that the economical method of creating personalized overlays is 3D printing technology – the tooth bite model is printed, and then serves as a model for thermoforming a translucent overlay in the shape of a patient’s bite. Here, the post-processing of models is crucial – smoothing the surface and removing unbaked powder from crevices and spaces. This guarantees the creation of an aligner tailored to the specific user, which can be used without discomfort. The RADOR device uses a vibrating method of double powder removal and polishing of printed parts, using a technique that ensures even cleaning of 3D prints.
The MJF method is another technique used for 3D printing of models for thermoforming of aligners. One of the popular aligner manufacturers – SmileDirect – has decided to use this technology, which will place 49 HP Jet Fusion 3D printers in its machine park, enabling continuous additive production. With such a number of machines, it is possible to produce up to 50,000 thousand forms for thermoforming transparent overlays in one day.