There have been some very intriguing developments from Prodways Group.
The French company has been a producer of large-scale 3D printers for several years, most notably with their “Moving Light” series in which the light engine is shifted across a huge build area to enable 3D printing of very large high-resolution objects.
Or many smaller high-resolution objects in a single print run.
It seems that the latter has been the case for many Prodways clients who use their ProMaker L series for dental applications, specifically to produce clear aligners, a now very popular dental system that by definition requires personalized geometry.
Prodways has recognized this practice and has set out to make life a great deal easier for any of their clients pursuing this application by introducing a new kind of workflow system.
“In the orthodontics market, the boom in clear aligners means that certain customers produce several thousand aligners per day. In order to meet the new challenges posed by this personalized mass production, Prodways has combined the productivity of its dedicated dental machines with robotics and automation techniques in which its parent company, Groupe Gorgé, is an expert.
Thanks to its unique expertise, Prodways partnered with a leading clear aligner workflow software player in order to propose an integrated robotic solution for the production of clear aligners.”
Apparently they are developing an:
“Automated modular system covers all production phases: from design to 3D printing, and from thermoforming of the aligners to their packaging, and all 24/7.”
This is quite significant for a number of reasons.
It is the first end-to-end automation solution from Prodways, and likely not the last. For far too many years, 3D printing has been treated as a standalone process, when in fact it is actually only one piece of a much larger workflow puzzle that actual customers must execute. This development will surely be well received.
I anticipate that we will see more of this type of complete automation system from other vendors as well, and perhaps it may become an expectation for clients.
Secondly, I perceive this move to directly affect 3D Systems, whose long-awaited Figure 4 system was finally released not too long ago. Their system is essentially a robotic automation system that supercharges their SLA 3D printing technology. It enables prints to proceed through several steps of manufacturing, in a manner similar to what is described by Prodways.
However, it appears that Prodways’ solution is more comprehensive than 3D Systems’, in that it apparently will proceed all the way through to packaging. I’m wondering how the two options could be compared by clients, and which option will generate more sales.
We’ll find out over the next year.
Via PRODWAYS GROUP