This is a bit of a surprise to me: Xact Metal has developed a dental solution for metal applications.
The Pennsylvania-based company produces small-format metal 3D printers with several interesting features. The most notable in my mind is that Xact Metal can actually print copper metal, something that is not easily accomplished on almost every other metal 3D printer, and Xact metal did so quite inexpensively.
Up to now their clients have largely been small scale metal operations, such as research institutions and manufacturers of smaller metal parts for industry. As far as I can tell, they’ve been quite successful in this sector.
It’s therefore quite surprising that the company announced a dental option this week. Company CEO Juan Mario Gomez explained:
“At Xact Metal, we’re taking the essential specs of metal 3D printing and combining them with breakthrough technology to establish a new level of price and performance for the dental industry. We have developed a high-performing and complete solution for dental labs using the newly introduced XM200G with specific parameters tailored to the dental industry, a full software workflow in partnership with Materialise Pre-Print Dental Module integrated with Materialise Magics Print for Xact Metal, and certified dental powder from BEGO Medical. The package will make it simple for dental labs to begin printing quickly and for a low cost.”
The idea here is to enable fast production of custom dental appliances, including crowns, bridges and removable dentures. These small parts are easily fitted within the XM200G’s 150 x 150 x 150 mm build volume, and in fact quite a few could be produced in a single job run.
Dental applications and workflow are very distant from Xact Metal’s wheelhouse that I would not thought it possible for them to achieve this solution. However, it turns out the secret to this product is in fact partnerships.
As Gomez described, they’ve partnered with Materialise, which already has dental software solutions in the market. Xact Metal needs only to license them appropriately to use them for this venture. Similarly, they’ve partnered with BEGO Medical on the materials side. BEGO Medical is actually providing two certified metal powders for use in this application, cobalt-based Mediloy S-Co, and WIRONIUM RP for denture applications.
The most interesting aspect of this announcement for me is that Xact Metal hasn’t really changed their equipment at all; in fact the partnerships suddenly enable an existing product to be used in an entirely new market.
While the dental market is actually becoming crowded with 3D print solutions, almost all of them use polymer materials. Here Xact Metal is addressing the need for metal solutions, which are much harder to find in the 3D market. It may be that they gain an advantage over those to follow in this market, but certainly the company has now gained a completely new set of prospects and customers.
This could be a message for other 3D printer manufacturers: what key partnerships could unlock value from your existing products?
Via Xact Metal