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3D Printing Expected to Explode in Dental Industry


What is 3D printing? 3D printing is different than CNC milling, although both use CAD/CAM to design and create a digital file. In the CNC milling process, you start with a block of material and carve an object out of the material. With 3D printing, you start with nothing and gradually add layer upon layer of material until the final item is created. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, but 3D printing allows you to print several objects at once, which definitely saves time if you have multiple items to create.

?Manufacturers of 3D printers are reporting a surge in demand, describes ITTechEx in a recent report. Currently forecast at $186M for 2014, [the 3D printing industry] will grow to $868M by 2025," predicts the report, due in large part to advancements in dental and medical applications. As a result of the increased demand, many printer manufacturers are inventing machines and fabricating materials specifically targeted to the dental industry. 

The cost of 3D printers has drastically declined in recent years, making it a more affordable option for everyone, including laboratories and dental practices. Not only are 3D printers becoming common in dental labs, but dentists can purchase a counter-top 3D printer and, after CAD/CAM design, produce models, dentures, waxups and even crowns right in their own offices.

Someday it may be common to see a 3D printer in a dentist?s office. As dentists embrace the chance to manufacture custom creations in office with 3D printing, both dentists and patients will reap the benefits of high quality, cost-effective products quickly created in only one appointment. 

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