LuxCreo has announced a breakthrough “chairside” dental 3D printer for near-instant aligners.
3D Printing and the Dental Industry
The dental industry is one of the markets where 3D printing has made significant progress. By definition, most dental products must be customized to fit the patient, making mass production unsuitable. Meanwhile, 3D printed solutions are ideal.
The dental industry is also one where costs are relatively high, making it easier for dental business managers to adopt 3D print technology. This scenario has resulted in a vast service business, with dental 3D printers producing various dental appliances upon order by dentists’ offices. At the dentist, the patient is scanned or molded to obtain customization data, which is then used to create a unique 3D model for printing the dental appliance.
Addressing Delays with LuxAlign
However, there’s a problem: the printing takes place away from the dental office, leading to delays for sending data to the service, production, packaging, and shipping back to the dentist. These delays require patients to schedule follow-up visits and return for the appliance, perhaps many days later.
LuxCreo’s new LuxAlign aims to eliminate that delay with an entirely new workflow.
The key to LuxAlign is the “chairside” concept, allowing the patient to potentially obtain the dental appliance while still in the dentist’s office during their first appointment. Diagnose, scan, print, and apply – all in one visit, assuming optimal conditions.
Introducing LEAP Technology and iLux Pro Dental
LuxAlign employs the company’s Light Enabled Additive Production (LEAP) technology, a finely tuned version of DLP resin 3D printing capable of producing strong parts at high speeds, said to be up to 10x faster than typical resin 3D printers.
LEAP technology is part of LuxAlign’s key element, the iLux Pro Dental. This compact device boasts a 0.05mm resolution and can produce up to 175 aligner models in only eight hours, though this is likely achieved when printing in batches. Nonetheless, it seems possible to produce aligners quickly.
Comprehensive Solution for Aligner Production
Along with the 3D printer, LuxCreo provides design software to create printable 3D models of aligners to match input data. There’s also a high-speed curing station to quickly finish prints when completed. Finally, they’ve devised a new material specifically for this application, “Direct Clear Aligner Material,” which becomes quite transparent after treatment with their digital polishing technology.
Using the software, dentists can order follow-up aligners for the patient through LuxCreo’s “smart factory.” This means the patient can leave the first appointment with their initial aligners and return later as the treatment program proceeds.
One thing not mentioned by LuxCreo is how the data is obtained. The dentist may require a suitable dental 3D scanner to capture the patient’s dimensions.
Nevertheless, the LuxAlign system claims to produce usable aligners in less than two hours, an incredible feat. Many people would likely wait a few extra minutes at their dental appointment to save coming back for the first aligner delivery.