BMF announced a very unusual new application for their micro 3D printer: dental veneers.
What’s a dental veneer? According to Wikipedia:
“In dentistry, a veneer is a layer of material placed over a tooth. Veneers can improve the aesthetics of a smile and protect the tooth’s surface from damage.”
This prosthetic device should be as thin as possible to avoid crowding in the mouth, but remain sufficiently strong to protect the tooth material underneath.
BMF produces a line of what’s called “micro 3D printers”. These are resin-based devices that are able to produce very tiny objects with quite high resolution. Their equipment can produce items with features as small as 0.002mm, far smaller than typical resin 3D printers.
Up to now the company’s products were primarily used by researchers and companies developing microfluidic devices. These would be parts that include extremely small embedded pathways for fluids. By using complex geometries, these devices can be used for a variety of purposes. It’s a wide application space that many are exploring.
Now there’s another interesting development, as one of BMF’s customers, UltraThinner, is producing what they call the “world’s thinnest cosmetic dental veneers”. These are apparently “3X thinner than traditional veneers”.
It makes sense to produce veneers using this technology for a couple of reasons. First would be the ability of the BMF equipment to produce small objects with precision and high resolution. Secondly would be the ability of the 3D printer to produce customized veneers for each individual patient.
Dental veneers hit the three success factors for a 3D print application:
- Low volume production
- Personalized requirement
- High priced product
Applications meeting this criteria in other domains have been successful in the past, so there’s reason to expect BMF’s client to succeed here as well.
3D printing is not new to the dental industry, as there have been countless applications in the past for the same reasons. However, none of the other players seems to have the ability to print veneers with the high resolution that BMF’s equipment offers.
The dental market has been extremely profitable for those 3D printer manufacturers that have ventured into that space. In fact, it’s been a refuge for certain companies that found the competition too hot in general purpose 3D printing. Several companies have moved their focus to dental applications and have succeeded.
It seems that BMF could join that group with this new application.
One wonders how many other applications could be identified for the unique technology of high resolution micro 3D printing.