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It’s no secret that the global clear aligner market is exploding. Align Technology, creators of Invisalign, report that over 10 million people have used their product to date to straighten their smiles. The global clear aligner market was valued at $2.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $15.9 billion by 2028.
What’s driving this growth? One of the main reasons is that clear aligners are less invasive method to straightening teeth versus traditional braces.
Another reason is the ‘The Zoom Effect’. Many people have been looking at their unedited image, sometimes on a daily basis, and not liking their smile. Enter a convenient alternative for changing that – the clear aligner.
The benefits of straight teeth don’t just start and end with looks. Straight teeth can help reduce your risk of cavities, gum inflammation and disease, and aid in a proper bite. Misaligned teeth can lead to the chipping of teeth from grinding, which can also lead to jaw pain and headaches.
The American Dental Association conducted a poll of its members and found that the global pandemic has led to a 59 percent increase in teeth grinding and clenching. This has resulted in a 53 percent increase in jaw pain, all of which can be brought on by stress.
While one should always get a professional opinion before making any decision to straighten their teeth, clear aligners are an excellent solution for anyone looking to treat mild to moderate misalignment conditions.
To address the growing need for the reliable, high-throughput manufacturing systems of clear aligners, Prodways Tech has partnered with the leading players in the world of digital dentistry. The result is a fully optimized and validated ecosystem for the industrial production of clear aligners.
The keys to a successful dental workflow are integrated systems and open platforms that allow every piece of a technology to essentially ‘talk’ to each other. It includes not only the hardware elements, such as the intraoral scanner, 3D dental printer and post-processing devices, it also encompasses the software and materials.
Why should you invest in implementing a seamlessly integrated hardware and software ecosystem? Three main reasons:
The manufacturing of clear aligners is a complex process, but with an integrated dental workflow, that process can flow much more smoothly.
It all starts with the intraoral scan of the patients mouth to get an accurate impression to plan and design the treatment plan according to its specific goals. Prodways has partnered with 3Shape in this step of the digital workflow to innovate digital treatment planning and automation of the design and production preparation process with clear aligner software for an advanced dental solution easy to use
Once the treatment plan is developed, we move on to printing the models for the clear aligners. Prodways ProMaker LD series 3D printers use our unique MOVINGLight® technology specially built for dental applications to produce up to 55 clear aligner molds in one hour with repeatable and accurate results guaranteed.
The models are then ready for post-processing, which Prodways has sourced a spinner device to clean aligners without the use of isopropanol. A safer, more cost-effective device, the spinner uses no chemicals with less resin waste to achieve a smoother surface finish. Resin can be reclaimed in this process, which leads to significant cost savings.
Thermoforming, the process of adding the film application on model by applying heat and pressure to a plastic sheet which is positioned on top of the 3D model printed specifically for the patient, is the next step of the process. Hamer offers an automatic system for in-line thermoforming of dental aligners and also allows the possibility of integrating vision and laser marking systems, which are used in the final packaging to identify the aligners according to the treatment plan.
For the trimming of aligners, Prodways has partnered with Digital Dental’s automated aligner trimming solution for a high-quality and comfortable final product. Their industrial-grade machinery and software integration can improve workflow quality, consistency, and eliminate the manual labor bottleneck. One technician can no produce 100 aligners per hour, every hour.
To ensure perfect coordination of the clear aligner workflow, Prodways has chosen Oqton’s cloud-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Oqton covers the entire manufacturing chain, from design to final post-print quality control, via a seamless and efficient process. Powered by AI algorithms, the software allows the system to learn continuously, improving efficiency and quality throughout the manufacturing chain and also predict how machines will behave to anticipate and identify malfunctions.
Just as important as all the software and hardware elements of the dental workflow is the material used, as the finished aligner is only as good as quality of the 3D printed model of the patient’s teeth.
Specifically developed by the Prodways Materials team to optimize 3D printing of aligner models, Absolute Aligner resin combines accuracy and quality to achieve an unmatched ultra-smooth surface finish to be able to achieve precise thermoforming results. This revolutionary new resin produces one of the clearest aligners on the market with a more natural feel to increase patient comfort and satisfaction.
How do you know the 3D printed model can be easily thermoformed? How do you know that the materials are interacting well together? How can you ensure that the aligner will cut well without quality defects? These are all questions asked frequently when deciding to implement an advanced dental solution into a business, particularly one for clear aligner production.
By testing and proving each step of the clear aligner workflow, Prodways has been able to properly validate that aligner IDs are properly printed and these IDs will be read properly by the Hamer and Digital Dental machines. We also know that the fixtures printed on the model will work with these machines to manipulate the part as it moves through the dental workflow.
Knowing each step of the process works together seamlessly and there is continuous communication in the production chain not only brings peace of mind, but it also significantly reduces human error.It also provides higher consistency, accuracy, and precision at every stage of the workflow.
One of the main reasons to invest in digital dentistry and an open ecosystem for clear aligners is that it can increase profitability and ROI in a dental business. By implementing a validated workflow, businesses can focus on getting new customers and other activities and not worry about the technology elements working. It allows for faster production cycles, allowing a business to compete in the booming clear aligner market.
Patients also love the digital workflow. Gone are the days of sitting in a dental chair for what seems like forever while waiting for a conventional impression and the painful application process of traditional braces. Comfortable patients are happy patients and more likely to recommend clear aligners to their peers, which leads to more opportunity for a dental business.
Implementing an entire digital workflow for the production of clear aligners may seem like a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be. It is essential to choose a 3D printing partner who has taken the necessary steps to validate each step of the manufacturing process to ensure it works.
Prodways has partnered with an open network of validated partners who are leading the way in digital dentistry to deliver an end-to-end ecosystem with one goal in mind: to help dental businesses grow!
We’ve helped thousands of customers implement 3D printing and advanced dental solutions into their business and we can help you, too! To learn more or talk to a dental expert here.