The 2019 TCT Present in Birmingham is a wrap. Over the course of three days, a wide range of participating talks, panels, and displays occurred. On the ultimate day, John Dargis, Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Analysis and Product Growth at SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based teledentistry firm, took to the TCT Summit stage to debate the corporate’s collaboration with HP.
First introduced at RAPID + TCT in Might 2019, the partnership between the 2 firms has allowed SmileDirectClub to 3D print as much as 50,000 distinctive mouth molds per day utilizing MultiJet Fusion (MJF) expertise.
Dargis’ speak, titled “SmileDirectClub – Disrupting the Orthodontics Business by way of Digital Manufacturing,” took a deep dive into the corporate’s 3D printing operations.
MJF 3D printed dental impression for SmileDirectClub in the course of different HP MJF samples at RAPID + TCT 2019. Photograph by Beau Jackson
Growing the accessibility of dental care utilizing 3D printing
SmileDirectClub exists amongst a burgeoning group of dental firms using 3D printing for the manufacturing of mass personalized aligners. Align Expertise, for instance, uses 3D printing to provide the Invisalign vary of clear aligners. Voodoo Clear Aligners, a dental manufacturing offshoot of New York-based 3D printing bureau Voodoo Manufacturing, can also be planning to fabricate and ship over 20,000 distinctive orthodontic clear aligners every month sooner or later.
SmileDirectClub was based in 2014, and creates personalised clear aligners in collaboration with its digital community of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists. The corporate’s basis relies on rising the accessibility and affordability of orthodontic care. “Conventional braces and aligners value between $5,000 to $9,000 and supplies frequent noon visits to the physician’s workplace,” explains Dargis. “Clear aligner remedy from SmileDirectClub is extra inexpensive, costing underneath $2000, or underneath £1500, […] with none of the inconvenience of frequent workplace visits.”
Prospects go to the corporate’s “Smile Outlets” to finish a scanning appointment of their enamel, after which the 3D photographs are used to diagnose and prescribe a set of 3D printed aligners and remedy plan by way of SmileDirectClub’s proprietary software program. Then, its fleet of HP 3D printers are used to fabricate the mass personalized mouth fashions, which act because the molds for clear aligners and retainers. Plastic is thermoformed excessive of the 3D printed molds to create the aligners, that are then delivered on to the shopper’s doorstep, with a lead time of three to 4 weeks.
3D printed clear aligner molds manufactured on a HP industrial Multi Jet Fusion system. Photograph by way of SmileDirectClub.
3D printing because the (not-so) “secret weapon”
SmileDirectClub’s collaboration with HP was borne out of a want to increase the attain of cheap, personalised clear aligners and different teeth-straightening therapies utilizing 3D printing. The corporate’s manufacturing website, or “Smile Lab” homes 49 HP MJF 3D printers working 24/7, which reportedly makes the corporate the most important producer of MJF 3D printed elements within the U.S. Every 3D printer produces 500 dental archers per construct, and runs twice a day, totaling to a mean of 50,000 elements per day. The corporate is offering its aligner providers to the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, UK and Australia. SmileDirectClub has served 700,000 clients up to now, and expects to be producing 20 million elements inside the subsequent 12 months.
Though the figures are spectacular based on Joseph Hogan, CEO of Align Expertise, 3D Programs by comparability produces over 500,000 distinctive elements for Invisalign clear aligners every day. Nonetheless the chief on this area, Invisalign is at the moment accessible in over 45 international locations, and treating greater than 2.5 million sufferers. SmileDirectClub has plans for increasing its providers throughout the globe as properly, however it nonetheless has a strategy to go.
When discussing the corporate’s success, and the way it was capable of overcome obstacles to realize its manufacturing ranges, Dargis particularly credit its collaboration with HP relationship again to 2016, and the scalability of the MJF 3D printers. “Once we first purchased these printers in 2016, when HP first launched the MJF expertise, we had been sort of working collectively to scale manufacturing. It got here to some extent the place I believe we had been operating [the 3D printers] too exhausting, at 24 hours a day, seven days every week. And I believe the tools perhaps wasn’t designed instantly for use for that,” he explains. “So our impediment was scaling to the demand that we had. HP stepped as much as the plate and was in a position to do this.”
Shifting ahead, Dargis says that SmileDirectClub is working with HP to assist set up a software program package deal permitting the corporate to handle the info of its 3D printing operations on an enterprising scale. “We now have plenty of processes that present elements which can be then analysed afterwards,” he provides, “We’re working with HP proper now to convey ahead a software program package deal that may analyse the info inside the machine. We look ahead to having the ability to handle the info for the enterprise degree, so we will have a holistic view of all 49 3D printers. However at the moment, we’re doing that on a person foundation.”
HP Jet Fusion 5200 Sequence 3D printer at TCT Present 2019. Photograph by Michael Petch.
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Featured picture reveals SmileDirectClub’s manufacturing facility in Antioch, Tennessee. Photograph by way of HP.
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