Structo and uLab Systems have announced a strategic partnership focused on 3D printing clear dental aligners.
Patient-specific applications are booming for 3D printing, as the technology is adaptable to a variety of uses that can meet individual needs. This is abundantly apparent in orthodontia, which is inherently patient-specific; no two sets of teeth are crooked in exactly the same way. Clear aligners have been a massive use case for 3D printing, and this new partnership is focusing on further streamlining the workflow to create them.
Structo is all about specific solutions for the dental industry; the company has told us before that application-specific 3D printers help “take the work out of workflow.”
For its part, uLab Systems, based in Redwood City, California, offers in-office orthodontic treatment planning software. As we know, the most powerful collaborations that bring out the best in 3D printing focus on bringing hardware and software capabilities together. For these two companies, both dedicated to orthodontic solutions, the collaboration seems to make great sense — and so it has a few objectives.
In uLab’s next software update, a new integration will be available. The uDesign aligner treatment planning software will include detail for Structo’s DentaForm 3D printer. These will then operate in the uPrint 3D printer ecosystem through which clinicians can 3D print aligner models in their offices, ready to prep for vacuum forming and trimming.
“DentaForm’s high throughput capabilities of printing up to 10 arches in 30 minutes is exactly what existing uLab customers need to help them with their in-office aligner manufacturing,” said Joe Breeland, uLab’s Chief Commercial Officer.
But it’s not just the DentaForm, or even just the desktop Velox system, coming into play.
The collaboration will encompass a new aligner-specific capability. Structo Elements is a modular, automated 3D printing system — and the next module is designed for aligners.
The Elements system is designed to 3D print up to 500 models daily and incorporates post-processing capabilities in its main module, allowing for a one-stop print-wash-cure sort of setup. It’s rather reminiscent of 3D Systems’ scalable Figure 4 setup.
“Our vision for Elements is to build application-specific modules that can streamline every single dental appliance manufacturing process. The first of such modules we are currently working on is a solution for the orthodontic clear aligner application to automate the vacuum forming and trimming processes of the aligners right after the models are printed and post-processed in the production module,” said Dhruv Sahgal, Structo’s Chief Commercial Officer.
“To be able to tap on uLab’s expertise in this area ensures that we can deliver on that promise of fully automating the entire aligner manufacturing workflow for our customers.”.
In introducing the collaboration, Structo and uLab are also offering a bundle deal. The announcement was made today at the annual American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) session in LA, and so the companies are offering an AAO-exclusive bundle deal in which purchase of a Structo DentaForm 3D printer comes with a 30-day free access to the uLab aligner software.