Spain-based MicroLay has developed a new 3D printer specifically for the dental market.
The new machine, the DentalFab, is a resin-based unit that has some impressive specifications.
- Build volume of 107 x 60 x 160mm (small, but appropriate for dental applications)
- Integrated WiFi for far simpler installation and operation
- XY resolution of 0.055mm using a 1920 x 1080 DLP projector
- Z resolution of 0.010mm, very fine
- Integrated camera for remote print monitoring
- 7 inch color touchscreen
- Compatible with many third party photopolymer resins
But perhaps the most interesting feature is the integrated post processing UV chamber. The SLA process typically requires a post-print session under an ultraviolet lamp to completely cure the solidifying resin. Normally this is done with a separate machine - sometimes requiring a surprise additional cost.
But the DentalFab includes a UV light within the build chamber. Apparently you don’t have to remove the print and simply start post-processing within the existing chamber.
While this seems to be a simpler process for the operator, I must assume that the DentalFab has some way to protect the liquid resin in the build chamber during post processing - or else it will completely solidify under the UV exposure!
Another interesting feature of the DentalFab I should mention is the ability to print rapidly. Like several other advanced resin 3D printers, MicroLay has developed a quick-release process for their resin vat, enabling far more rapid than typical resin-based 3D printers. It’s not a unique result, but it is an advantage over some of their competitors. They explain their “Dual membrane FlexVat technology”:
The bucket of the Microlay DentalFab® is a small masterpiece of technology. Its Rig-Flex® dual membrane with FEP and PMMA allows acceleration of the printing process and easy detachment of individual layers. It also ensures a plane base and repeatability of the initial layers, which are critical.
I admire this company’s strong focus on a single application area: dentistry. Unlike some other 3D printer companies that have been shifting their focus to a target area, it appears that MicroLay has spent some time analyzing the dental market and come up with a solution that should fit well in this area.
Pricing of the machine is rumored to be around USD$10,000, which is more than prosumer price levels, but far less than many competitive dental units.