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Dubai's first 3D-printed teeth look more natural than real

Bernd Debusmann Jr. /Dubai
Filed on February 1, 2017 | Last updated on February 1, 2017 at 10.52 am
The dental framework was created in cobalt chrome last Thursday.
The dental framework was created in cobalt chrome last Thursday.

Speaking at Arab Health on Tuesday, Julian Callanan, managing director of Sinterex, said that the 3D printing process begins following the creation of a 3D-scan of the patient's mouth.

Two local companies have partnered up to produce what they say are the first 3D-printed dental implant bridges manufactured in the UAE.

The Jebel Ali Industrial Area-based and Emirati-owned Sinterex - which is also the first company to be licensed for industrial 3D printing in Dubai - created the 14-unit framework in cobalt chrome at their local facility just last Thursday. Over the weekend, the framework was successfully fitted into a patient's mouth.

Speaking at Arab Health on Tuesday, Julian Callanan, managing director of Sinterex, said that the 3D printing process begins following the creation of a 3D-scan of the patient's mouth.

"We use a powder bed fusion process, in which a layer of metal powder is distributed evenly across the platform," he said. "A high-powered laser is then used to selectively melt the powders together," he said. "We then add layer after layer until we have the finished product."

The second company - Middle East Dental Laboratory - then works on the metal framework, finishes the part, and applies ceramics so that the teeth look natural once in the patient's mouth.

Middle East Dental Laboratory managing director Thomas Claesen added that the process is significantly faster than currently available, traditional methods.

"The printing time is about four hours. A traditional process might take two or three days," he noted. "With what we have, you are essentially able to take days off the process. It's very accurate and we can speed up the process, and the end product is as accurate as possible." Callanan added that the 3D-printing of metal for dental purposes is a considerably more advanced process than 3D-printing other items, such as dental molds.

"It's very expensive, and it's also quite complex. It requires a different kind of skill set," he said. "This is manufacturing. We have to use industrial gases and there is a lot of engineering processes."

Claesen, for his part, noted that 3D printing is a key component of dentistry's future.

"The future will absolutely be digital. In the end, I don't think we'll even need (dental) models," he said. "It will just need the final aesthetic touch."

The announcement comes at a time in which local authorities have announced their intention of 3D-printing teeth, as part of the larger 3D-printing strategy that seeks to make Dubai the world's foremost 3D-printing hub by 2030.

On Sunday, a senior official with the Dubai Health Authority noted that they will soon be using 3D technology to print dental molds, meaning that dentists can print 18 cases of molds in six hours, as opposed to an hour-and-a-half to make one case using currently available methods.

"It's an incredibly exciting time to be in Dubai and be a part of this," Callanan added. "The government is creating entrepreneurs around this (3D printing) industry, and it's fascinating to see that."

bernd@khaleejtimes.com

 

 


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