Most of the companies and their reps selling 3D printers have been working in the dental space with restorative dentistry and implant dentistry and have not yet adapted to the substantial differences that exist with orthodontics. Additionally, the margins on the actual 3D printers are razor thin so companies will push items like expensive UV curing boxes (with huge profit margins) when post-curing may not be indicated and when inexpensive UV light boxes for nails salons may suffice.
Orthodontists are in need of greater clarity on what you should or should not buy to begin integrating 3D printing in your practice, so we put together a shopping list.
Print Farm Essential Items
1 x Formlabs Form2 3D Printer (Complete Package is $3499)
- All the 3D printers we tested for accuracy in printing orthodontic models demonstrated the requisite precision for orthodontic indications; however, the Form2 was the most cost effective and has a wide range of resins available so it makes a good starter 3D printer.
- With the Form2 you can predictably build 20 dental models vertically per day (two prints of 10 models), which easily translates to 300 models a month on 1 Form2 printer. As your needs grow, you can gradually scale up your capacity by adding printers to your print farm. Having a print farm also provides redundancy so if one printer goes down you have a back up.
- The complete printer package includes a Resin cartridge, Resin Tank, Build Platform, Finish Kit, and One Year Warrantee
2 x Matte Grey V3 Standard Resin Cartridges (1 included with printer package, $149 for additional)
- Cartridge system for easy switching between different resins.
- This resin has highly accurate curing properties and is perfect for dental models.
- One cartridge will print about 50-70 dental models depending on size, so we recommend getting two.
Additional Resin Tanks (1 included with printer package, $59 for additional)
- The rule is 1 Resin Tank per Resin Cartridge. These stackable resin tanks (with lids – don’t throw these out) that can be easily removed to switch between resins. The printer will come with one resin tank included.
- Since the resin tank will be partially filled with resin, you will want to keep the resin tanks with a particular cartridge of resin (you can label the lids). Simply remove and cover with their original lid for storage.
- The silicone curing window on the bottom of the resin tank wears down with each ‘peel step’ and will eventually cloud and require replacement. The silicone window is tested to withstand 5000 ‘peels,’ which means that you will typically need to replace the resin tank after printing through a whole resin cartridge to keep your prints accurate (2 cartridges is sometimes a stretch). You should evenly utilize the build platform and vary your print position so that the silicone curing windows do not cloud pre-maturely.
Finish Kit (included)
- The Finish kit includes a finishing tray and accessories to remove parts and perform a thorough alcohol wash while maintaining a clean workspace.
PreForm Print Preparation Software (included)
- Free software that comes with the Form2 printer. Other printers will have similar prep software for their machine.
- This software will prepare files for printing and optimize them for printing on the Form2. Simply lay out prints on build platform, use the support generating tool, and push to print via WiFi.
- You will have to physically present to start a print on the printer (needs manual verification that build platform is in place, etc.), but you can utilize the online Dashboard to monitor print progress remotely.
Optional Print Farm Purchases
- Although STL files for dental models can be downloaded and printed without additional software, if you want to make design modifications to the 3D files themselves you will need additional software. This isn’t necessarily something you’ll need to do right away.
- This includes movement of teeth to stage clear aligner tooth movement, digital bracket removal, fabrication of direct print indirect bonding trays, fabrication of direct print occlusal splint/retainers, modification of tooth and gum surfaces
- Some options include Orthoanalyze, Orchestrate, Elemetrix.
- If you elect not to purchase software, you can outsource these CAD services to labs (to remove brackets, etc.) and have them provide the STL files of the final product for printing and digital storage in-house.
Pro Service Plan ($499)
- Although the Form2 is dead simple to set up and use, the Pro-Service plan can be helpful for orthodontists new to the 3D world.
- You will get a customized training session to learn in the ins and outs of desktop 3D printing, priority phone and email support, and the ability to hot swap a broken printer (a good idea if you don’t have a second printer)
Orion Pulse Arc Welder & Argon Tank (~$2500)
- For welding/soldering parts on printed models.
- Instead of purchasing an expensive laser welder, pulse arc welders offer an effective means of welding on printed models without melting the print. Welds are sturdier than soldering, but are a different technique so it may take some training for your lab technician.
Siliform Separating Medium (~$260 for 8oz)
- If you are going to be making Hawley retainers or other acrylic based products on the printed models, you will need a separating medium. However, the surface tension on printed models is different than plaster casts and traditional separating mediums won’t work as well.
- There are certainly a lot of options that can do the job, but the one that we have found to work best has been Siliform. It is not cheap, but it is effective. You can order from Adell Corporation.
- 3D printing offers more advantages if you are sticking to thermoplastic retainers or direct printed retainers, so you may want to consider modifying your retention protocols.
Biocompatible Resin Cartridges (price varies depending on material)
- Bio-compatible resins are only needed for printed final products that will be used in the mouth. You do not need a bio-compatible resin to print a dental model that will be used as a working or diagnostic model.
- Bio-compatible resins are available for use in direct printed IDB trays, occlusal splints, analogs for autotransplantation, surgical guides, etc.
- The Dental SG Resin ($399) is already available, but the upcoming Dental LT Clear Resin (~$500) will be a better fit for most orthodontic needs.
Form Wash ($499)
- While you can perform an alcohol wash with the finish kit that is included, Formlabs has created a little alcohol jacuzzi for your finished prints that accepts a full build platform.
- This is an optional purchase, but it automates the wash process and takes up less counter space than the alcohol baths in the Finish Kit so it may be useful. The agitation of the alcohol will also get a more thorough clean of the printed items in less time. By purchasing an additional build platform you can start another print immediately while the other build platform is being washed.
UV-Post Curing Box
- If you are printing objects that are bio-compatible, you will need to do a complete UV post-cure. This can be done either with the Form Cure ($699) or the Kudo Post Curing Lamp ($249). Companies will typically push these whether or not your truly need them because they are high margin.
Additional Build Platform ($99)
- Build platforms will last nearly indefinitely, but if you are looking to utilize the Form Wash System you will need a second build platform so you can print while your other build platform is being cleaned.