Our site includes pages dedicated to the specific brands of intra-oral scanner that we are equipped to support, and of laboratory 3D model printer that we have deployed.
It is also worth, however, offering a general overview of these transforming technologies, and the state they have reached currently.
As part of our commitment to the early adoption of innovating technologies, we have invested heavily in the systems and software to be able to receive and integrate into our workflow intra-oral scans prepared by our dentist customers.
Intra-oral scanning dates back to the early days of Cerec, by Sirona, in the 1980s. However, it has only recently become an accessible and reasonably popular way of producing impressions (digital, of course) to send to laboratories, rather than sending conventional physical impressions.
There are now a number of excellent scanners available to dentists, including 3Shape’s Trios and Align’s iTero. While these have not yet reached heavy penetration amongst dentists, we anticipate that within the next 5 years or so this will become the default method for dentists to send impressions through to their labs.
3D printing provides labs like us with a way of creating high quality working models using the digital scan information outputted by the intra-oral scanners described above.
Once we receive scans from a dentist, we import these into our model builder software and can then create sectional models, as well as implant models using a special implant analogue.
The models can then be printed on a 3D printer using a process known as SLA (Stereolithography).
In this process, liquid photopolymer resin is cured by an Ultra Violet (UV) laser to solidify a pattern, layer by layer, building up a solid 3D model from our design data.
We are currently able to print models, and design and fabricate substructures (abutment, coping, and frameworks). However full integration of the various systems in the market has not yet been achieved and therefore the costs for using digital workflow can be greater than conventional analogue methods.
We are certain, however, that this will change over the next few years, with a full scan-to-print workflow becoming the norm.