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3D printer manufacturer Structo, headquartered in Singapore, designs, develops, and manufactures 3D printers tailored for dental applications, like the flagship OrthoForm, which are powered by its proprietary, high-speed Mask Stereolithography (MSLA) technology. One of the main uses for 3D printing in the dental field today is the manufacture of clear orthodontic aligners, which can straighten teeth without metal and those uncomfortable wires. An estimated four million-plus people in the US wear braces, but that number is decreasing with the continued development of aligners.Structo has worked to lower the cost and streamline production of clear orthodontic aligners before, and its MSLA 3D dental printers are now being used by Berlin-based ClearCaps, one of the top aligner brands in Europe.
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“We always strive to be at the forefront of the latest technology to help us deliver superior treatment outcomes. To meet our high quality, high volume manufacturing requirements, we look for a printer that can deliver the throughput we require over time as we rapidly increase our production volumes,” explained Jesse Bartels, the Chief Unbrace Officer for ClearCaps. “When we came across Structo’s impressive MSLA technology more than 2 years ago, we decided to get on board.”Founded in 2016, ClearCaps uses custom-made clear plastic trays that gently shift teeth into their desired position. The solution is comfortable, removable, nearly invisible, and predictable, as the aligner Caps are made with advanced 3D imaging and printing. Every treatment is simulated ahead of time with 3D software, so there are no mistakes – a practice that has revolutionized clear orthodontic treatments. The company also utilizes high-quality 3D software for treatment planning and to track its cases.While on the hunt for the best 3D printing equipment with which to expand the ClearCaps fleet, Bartels was most concerned with two criteria deemed “more important than any others” – the scalability of the technology and ease of maintenance. Structo’s newest dental 3D printer, the DentaForm, has a large build platform, and according to the company, is the fastest dental model 3D printer in the world.
Dhruv Sahgal, the Head of Business Development at Structo, said, “We want to make sure that we continue to help companies like ClearCaps deliver superior treatment outcomes by providing 3D printing solutions that are cost effective, easy to maintain and able to deliver the production volumes needed. Working with leading aligner brands helps us understand the growing needs of aligner manufactures and helps Structo bring solutions to support those needs.”Capable of 3D printing up to 10 clear aligner molds in half an hour, the DentaForm’s impressive throughput rate is perfect for large volume manufacturing of aligners, which is why it’s now been added to ClearCaps’ manufacturing facilities.
“We are now printing around 250 models every 24 hours cycle,” Bartels said. “To know that the MSLA printers can handle that volume and still have room for more, that helps us scale our manufacturing and expand our market reach rapidly.”The market for clear orthodontic aligners is continuing to rapidly expand, with annual growth in the double digits, and ClearCaps believes that its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, with the addition of Structo’s DentaForm 3D printers, will help make a significant impact in the near future.
“Looking at the way the industry is growing, we are projected for significant growth in the coming years,” Bartels said. “With the help of Structo, we will continue to deliver superior product offerings the market needs. We are barely scratching the surface at the moment.”
[Images provided by Structo]