Above the Clouds

Medical and Dental

The dental laboratory industry is experiencing consolidation with the disruptive technology of 3D printing enabling the rapid prototyping and fabrication of the highly customized parts their business creates for customers. As the 3D printing of ceramics, metals, and other materials enters into wider use, dental labs will find themselves innovating and consolidating to streamline and increase the speed of operations while lowering costs. These sorts of innovation activities may qualify for federal and state R&D tax credits.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that leverages computer technologies and layer-by-layer fabrication to create customized, complex, and wasteless objects and parts. 3D printers are capable of printing parts in a variety of materials, including metals and ceramics. The ability to scan and completely customize the shape and features of the part reduces the design, build, and revision time of creating a part, which in turn creates costly savings. The features of 3D printing lend themselves to the highly customized world of dental labs that create dental implants for people. Under traditional circumstances, the process of taking an impression of a tooth, casting the impression, and sending it to a lab to be worked through the process into an implant may take weeks. Leveraging 3D printing and scanning, a scan of a patient's teeth may be taken, sent electronically to a lab to have an implant quickly designed and fabricated, and sent back to a dentist or oral surgeon for implantation.