Dental Tribune International (DTI) had the opportunity to speak with Jim Zarzour, head of dental solutions at Nexa3D, a company specialising in the development of ultra-fast polymer 3D printers. Zarzour shared with DTI information about the impact of 3D-printing trends on the dental industry and indicated which Nexa3D products he thinks are going to make in-house 3D printing more feasible for more practices. DTI has previously covered the achievements of Nexa3D and its latest technologies, which are aimed at bringing innovation to the orthodontic industry.
Mr Zarzour, it is expected that the need for smoother clinical workflows, faster turnaround times and fewer dental appointments will boost the growth of the dental 3D-printing market, as dentists may be more likely to invest in digital technologies in order to cope with increasing demands. What trends do you foresee overall for this market?
Having a digital practice will be vital for practice growth. Same-day dentistry is the buzz in the industry right now. Being able to have a patient walk out of a practice with a device, while limiting the number of office visits, is critical to the overall experience for the patient.
Nexa3D’s large-format NXD 200 3D printer was designed specifically for high-throughput dental 3D-printing applications and utilises the company’s proprietary Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) technology. Could you please explain the system’s advantages in comparison with other digital light processing (DLP) and stereolithography (SLA) systems on the market?
LSPc is a type of masked stereolithography (mSLA) technology, which cures resins by exposing them to ultraviolet light. Instead of tracing each layer with a laser beam, as in DLP, it uses a larger area ultraviolet light source that is masked with an LCD screen. This allows the patterned light to expose the resin consistently and simultaneously across the curing plane―think micro-patterned flood lamp, rather than tracing with a pencil-like beam. This makes mSLA much faster than conventional SLA. Additionally, with our patented ultraviolet light array, we are able to achieve complete light uniformity across the entire build area, ensuring part accuracy and consistency.
“Being able to have a patient walk out of a practice with a device, while limiting the number of office visits, is critical to the overall experience for the patient”
What exactly can be printed and with which materials?
NXD 200 is validated for use with all of the Keystone Industries’ dental resins―KeyTray, KeyModel Ultra, KeySplint Soft, KeyGuide and KeyOrtho IBT―as well as with Nexa3D’s xMODEL 2505 powered by BASF Forward AM. A few examples of what can be printed are patient-specific dental models, surgical guides, splints, trays and nightguards.
Last year, Nexa3D announced the XiP, a desktop 3D printer suited for use in dental offices of all sizes and for delivering chairside prints. What are the distinctive features of XiP and when will it become available?
XiP will be commercially available in the second quarter of 2022, and customers can join our waitlist programme simply by visiting our website. XiP is a simple-to-use desktop unit with a fairly large build volume of 4.8 l and an integrated workflow. XiP is a solid machine, and its ease of use is going to be critical for a dental/orthodontic practice. Dental clinics are busy and having a simple-to-use 3D printer is important. The smart resin dispenser, quick connect build plate and stackable vat storage unit make it easy for anyone in the clinic to use. Don’t forget the price point of under US$6,000 (€5,450) makes it very affordable for a practice, whereas the desktop size makes it more accessible from a footprint perspective.
At Formnext 2021, Nexa3D announced a new partnership with artificial intelligence-powered manufacturing software start-up Oqton and a new dental software. Could you please explain how users of your 3D printers can benefit from this collaboration?
Oqton software is an automated production system with artificial intelligence and a fully integrated application programming interface with the NXD 200. It is a cloud-based solution, so from a production standpoint it provides ease of use for the customer. It allows the setup of multiple print jobs at once. The user can order, prepare, schedule, monitor, analyse and track. Moreover, it enables one-click data preparation in order to import, nest, label, and add supports, etc. This integration is critical for large laboratories and manufacturers, and we are excited to see this in action for our customers.
Owing to growing demand for additively manufactured dental models, restorations and aligners, dental laboratories have been part of the digital revolution for some time already. Now, with new, more affordable and user-friendly 3D printer models on the market, dental offices are able to print devices at the practice too. What factors should practices consider when planning to purchase a 3D printer?
Dental practices like the idea of being able to print in the office. It can help them showcase the fact that they are a digital practice, which is important these days for patient experience and, in some cases, same-day dentistry. Allowing the patient to leave the office with his or her device can be important for the overall patient experience. In addition, it can help from a profitability standpoint. Many practices have 3D printers in-house and do not use them for a number of reasons. For example, the workflow for the printer is not easy, and the practice does not have a staff member who is able to use it. Providing a simple and easy-to-use solution such as Nexa3D’s XiP could be critical to the success of a practice.
Figures recently published by the ADA’s Health Policy Institute provided further evidence that practice ownership is declining, whereas consolidation continues to accelerate. Looking at this as a global trend, how will the shift to large corporate practices, which need to produce large volumes of appliances daily, drive the adoption and use of 3D printers in dentistry?
The demand for in-house printing will continue to increase, as dental support organisations (DSOs) are getting leaner and looking for ways to increase margins and decrease costs. Practice consolidation will continue as DSOs continue to expand their footprints, and a number of larger DSOs are looking for 3D printers to bring solutions in-house. There is also consolidation of dental laboratories. The overall number of laboratories has decreased, but print volumes are sharply increasing, as is overall market growth for the laboratory business. The global market for dental laboratories is about US$27 billion and expected to grow by 2028 to over US$40 billion. All of this really points to an increased need for higher throughput, faster speeds, and easier workflows in order to drive those productivity rates, and ultimately profitability numbers.
Although digital dentistry continues to thrive, one of the known barriers for the adoption of new technologies is the lack of skilled personnel and training―a circumstance that could restrain the overall adoption of dental 3D printing. How can companies like Nexa3D help existing and potential customers keep pace with the rapid evolution of 3D-printing solutions?
In any laboratory you talk to, staffing is a real issue, especially the lack of skilled employees. The way Nexa3D helps with this is by providing easy-to-use solutions, complete with validated workflows and improved production economics so that dental clinic and laboratory staff can spend less time on troubleshooting the 3D-printing equipment and more time focusing on patient outcomes.
More information about Nexa3D can be found on its website.
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