Throughout the last ten years, some of the most signicant advances in the dental eld have been in digital dentistry. Starting with intra-oral and desktop scanning to the development of multiple CAD software programs and the introduction of 3D printing complementing milling solutions—these are some of the examples that have appeared in the dental eld and continued to evolve, having a signicant impact on how dentistry is practised. Specically related to 3D printing, dental and orthodontic laboratories have leveraged this technology to maximise the production of models whether for restorative or orthodontic purposes. The growth of clear aligner solutions would never have been possible without 3D-printing solutions. Dental and orthodontic laboratories have developed a sophisticated synchronised in-house workflow that allows them to meet their production needs and full market demands. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge the tipping point when tools become limitations. For example, 24/7 production with existing solutions depends on human power. Dental laboratories need to have staff to work around the clock, requiring weekend and night shifts, if they want to have continuous production. Moreover, with current and future labour shortages and other challenges in a dynamic market, automation is key to staying competitive and planning for further growth. Formlabs Dental has learned from its users’ experience to tackle these limitations and convert them into opportunities, bringing to market the Formlabs Automation Ecosystem. This ecosystem includes three new products: Form Auto, Fleet Control and High Volume Resin System.
Form Auto is a hardware extension for the Form 3B/3B+ printers that automatically removes nished parts from Build Platform 2 and starts the next print without the need for operator interaction. With Form Auto, hands-free 24/7 printing is not only possible but affordable and can be added to any existing Form 3B/3B+ printer. Taking up minimal additional space, Form Auto is an advanced manufacturing tool for dental laboratories to boost the productivity of their staff and expand output without the need for a signicant increase in headcount.
Fleet Control is a suite of newly available advanced features in PreForm and Dashboard that facilitate easier management of multiple 3D printers with centralised queue management and automatic printer assignment. Fleet control simplies management and oversight of the fleet of dental printers by identifying which printer is most suitable for each print job with automatic printer assignment and by creating a continuously moving queue across all printers. With additional capabilities with Fleet Control in Dashboard, users can view and edit the queue for the group of printers, as well as duplicate or reprint jobs without having to reopen PreForm. These features can be accessed from anywhere, so queue management can happen after working hours, from home or from anywhere in the world. Operators can ensure the smooth running of the printer eet without having to be in the laboratory.
High Volume Resin System
High Volume Resin System is a 5l resin bag and resin pump that expands the standard capacity of a Formlabs stereolithography printer, reduces packaging waste by more than 90% and minimises cartridge-handling tasks. Continuous production only happens with enough material to supply it. High Volume Resin System ensures that printers will never run out of material while operators are away from the job, be it overnight or over the weekend. Fleet Control and Dashboard features will alert operators when consumables are close to needing a refill so that changing resins can always be taken care of before leaving for the night. With the Formlabs Automation Ecosystem, a single printer can produce up to 177 models per day* while minimising staff input and costs. Through a series of features meant to make users’ lives easier and products even better, Form Auto, Fleet Control and High Volume Resin System allow dental laboratories to supercharge their productivity, reduce cost per part, deal with labour shortages and minimise the headaches that come with higher throughput.
One of the beta-testers of these products was Perfect Finish Ortho Lab, a full-service orthodontic laboratory which has been on the cutting edge of investments in digital workows, building a large eet of 3D printers to accommodate growing demand. The team was able to successfully deploy Form Auto and achieve weekend printing without in-person oversight by staff. Digital laboratory manager Van Williamson shared the experience: “Before, we would queue the printers up, and our tech would come in on Saturday, clear the printers and start the next job. Now, with Form Auto, you load the printers up, and the models are all done on Monday. We have weekends when the staff doesn’t have to come in, and the models are ready on Monday morning. Because of Form Auto, we were able to print more, especially on the weekend, without having to rely on our other printers.”
As dental laboratories look to automation to help them tackle a changing and dynamic market, Formlabs Dental is excited to be part of their journey. The Formlabs Automation Ecosystem minimises labour time, creates more exibility for printer operators and streamlines the 3D-printing dental workow. For dental businesses looking to scale production, the Formlabs automation ecosystem will be indispensable to expanding output in tandem with demand while keeping costs and labour low so that businesses can empower their teams to stay inspired and agile.
Automation makes 3D printing even easier and more efficient, and Form Auto, Fleet Control, and High Volume Resin System work in concert to reduce costs and improve productivity. By automating the part removal, queue management and printer preparation tasks, dental laboratories will be able to do more with less.
* Tests run using Draft Resin to make orthodontic models on a Form 3B+ printer at 200μm.
Georgio Haddad, Germany