Graphy presents first direct 3D-printed aligner with shape memory function

By Franziska Beier, Dental Tribune International
December 07, 2021

COLOGNE, Germany: At the 39th International Dental Show (IDS) in September, South Korean manufacturer Graphy showcased the world’s first direct 3D-printed aligner, produced from the company’s own 3D printing resin. The aligner is equipped with a shape memory function, meaning the polymers remember the original printed shape. According to Graphy, its product is the only one available on the market featuring this property. To find out more about this innovative orthodontic solution, Dental Tribune International (DTI) visited the company’s booth at IDS 2021.

Graphy’s aligners can be produced using any 3D printer. Owing to the direct production process, no printing models or vacuum forms are needed, resulting in time and cost savings. Moreover, this printing process reduces carbon emissions and produces less refuse because no cutting is needed, which benefits the environment.

According to Un seob Sim, CEO and president of the company, after two to three days of wearing an aligner, it becomes deformed and with the changed shape, the aligner loses its orthodontic force. This is why usually two to three aligners are needed to complete one treatment step. However, owing to their shape memory function, Graphy aligners do not need to be replaced and thus accelerate the treatment process. If the aligner is put into hot water for less than 1 minute, it will regain its original shape. Tap water can be used, and no additional equipment is needed for this step.

The problem with aligners from other companies is that, owing to the shape of the teeth, the aligner is narrower at the bottom than in the middle or on the top, said Sim. He added that this may cause harm to the patients’ teeth when the aligners are put into their mouths. The advantage of the shape memory polymer is that the aligner is still quite flexible shortly after it has been removed from the hot water, and placing the aligner on the teeth is less painful for patients.

Another benefit of the Graphy aligner is the opportunity for thorough disinfection. “Most companies do not recommend brushing their aligners because, if they get scratched, bacteria might enter, and this makes additional cleaning agents necessary,” Sim told DTI. Graphy recommends brushing its aligners. The material is able to stay in hot water of up to 100°C for 1 to 2 minutes, and this also helps with disinfection.

According to Sim, two more special features of the aligner are worth highlighting. Firstly, the aligner can move teeth backwards, and secondly, it can rotate teeth by up to 35°. No other aligner can achieve these results. In addition, the product has CE certification, and 510k clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration is pending. “We can provide our patients with same-day solutions, and patient satisfaction has been very high. Dental professionals also like our product,” said Sim.

When asked how he and his company had experienced this year’s IDS, Sim responded: “The first IDS I went to was in 2005, and this is the second IDS for Graphy. We have grown since then. In the beginning, people didn’t believe in our technology, but now we are often congratulated, and customers really like our product. We are very happy to be here, because for almost two years, we have not been in contact with dental professionals owing to the pandemic. IDS 2021 was good for us personally and financially, and now we can focus on the future.”

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