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Reviving FDM Technology for Dental Models and Thermoformed Aligners.



3D printing has revolutionized various industries, and dentistry is no exception. With the rise of technologies like SLA and DLP in the creation of dental models and thermoformed aligners, an intriguing question arises: Is it time to revisit FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology for these applications?


Advantages of FDM Technology in Dental Health:

  1. Absence of Free Monomers: One major concern in dentistry is the release of toxic monomers during polymerization. FDM uses solid filaments, eliminating the need for UV-sensitive liquids, thereby reducing the risk of free monomers.

  2. No Post-Cleaning Required: Unlike liquid resin technologies that often require a post-wash and curing process, FDM-printed dental models can be ready for immediate use, saving time and resources.

  3. No Photocuring Needed: FDM utilizes thermoplastic filaments that solidify simply by cooling. This means there's no need for the photocuring step common in technologies like SLA and DLP.

  4. Classified as Class I Medical Device: In many locations, dental models and aligners manufactured with FDM can be classified as Class I Medical Devices, streamlining the regulatory process and facilitating adoption.

  5. Cost-Effective: FDM technology is known to be more cost-effective in terms of initial investment and materials compared to certain liquid resin technologies.

Considerations:

  1. Precision: While FDM has significantly advanced in terms of precision, some applications may require 3D printing technologies with even finer resolutions.

  2. Specific Materials: Material choice is crucial. While PETG is a robust option, specific material developments might be necessary to address certain dental needs.

Conclusion:

While liquid resin technologies have dominated the 3D dental printing space, FDM has the potential to offer distinctive benefits. The absence of free monomers, process simplification, and classification as a Class I Medical Device are factors that might tilt the scales towards FDM in certain cases. The key lies in balancing the required precision with the particular advantages that this technology can bring to the dental field

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