Digital dentistry: Align chooses SLA 3D printing to mass produce customized aligners
Align will invest more in 3D Systems’ SLA 3D printing technology to increase the use of customized additive manufacturing solution in digital dentistry.
The maker of the Invisalign system of clear aligners for straightening teeth strenghtens its collaboration with 3D Systems to create an additive manufacturing component that will produce over 320,000 unique medical devices (Invisalign clear aligners) per day.
Align has harnessed the accuracy and scalability of 3D printing to grow its patient base nearly 6X since 2009, with more than 5.8 million patients treated globally, with each patient representing a multi-piece set of unique clear aligners.
SLA 3D printing at the heart of this multi-year collaboration
3D Systems’ ProX SLA 3D printing technology, materials, and software will be used in the fabrication workflow to create sacrificial tooling, which enables to obtain the final, patient-ready aligners.
Each component of the additive manufacturing solution has been optimized to meet Align’s unique manufacturing requirements and process. The design flexibility enabled by additive manufacturing has helped Align include risk-mitigating processes that prevent potential confusion of millions of patient-specific devices. For example, each Invisalign patient’s treatment plan includes multiple unique aligners. One of the benefits of 3D printing is the ability to print many different parts at once – with each print run potentially including aligners for multiple patients. To avoid confusion, each aligner has a unique patient ID which is added into the design of the aligner through the CAD file and printed directly into the device. This unique identifier does not divulge any patient information, yet allows manufacturing technicians to track and manage production and shipment of each patient’s complete set of aligners.
For the specialist of digital dentistry, key markets like Asia Pacific are ideal for its production., especially because the market seems very promising. The market is not only the company’s fastest growing region in terms of business, anticipated overall market growth for the orthodontics market in China is 15 – 20 percent annually.
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