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What is Digital Light Processing?
Some of the most advanced 3D printers available for dentistry today, including Dentsply Sirona’s Primeprint and the SprintRay Pro S Series, use digital light processing (DLP). First introduced in 1987, DLP is considered a “sister technology” to stereolithography (SLA), the very first method of 3D printing. DLP offers several unique features and advantages:
- Both SLA and DLP techniques form objects layer by layer, but SLA gradually cures resin materials with guided laser tracing, while DLP uniformly projects and cures entire layers at once using a light source. Subsequently, DLP prints generally take less time to complete than their SLA counterparts.
- Because DLP printers use a shallow resin vat and all material within is consumed during each printing, they can reduce material costs and waste.
- DLP printers are highly accurate and produce optimal surface finishes. Likewise, the surfaces of objects printed with DLP can be polished to a high luster, making them ideal for esthetic applications.
- A wide range of printing materials are supported by DLP printing systems, including recently developed biocompatible resins used to make dental restorations.
- Desktop DLP printers are typically plug-and-play, which makes them easy to learn, teach, and use.
- Objects printed with the DLP are Isotropic – they’re equally strong in all X, Y, or Z planes. This gives them excellent durability in many dental applications. Additionally, DLP-printed parts are considered 100% watertight and generally won’t react with anything other than light.
5 Benefits of Bringing 3D Printing to Your Practice
- Improve Speed and Accuracy: The digital workflows, and now AI algorithms, used by current-gen 3D printers provide an unprecedented level of speed, precision, and repeatability. Furthermore, processes that once took multiple appointments or required waiting on dental labs for days or weeks can reliably be completed in the span of a single visit.
- Expand Services: 3D printers can be used for an ever-growing array of dental applications. Thanks to their efficiency and ease of use, they allow you to readily add new, in-demand services to your practice, including same-day clear aligners, nightguards, and even dental restorations.
- Attract New Patients: Incorporating new services and delivering results in less time means more patients will be drawn to your practice. And given the efficiency afforded by 3D printing, your team will have greater flexibility to offer specialized care and a better patient experience. Likewise, as a state-of-the-art technology, 3D printing provides a “wow” factor that makes it a compelling marketing tool for your business.
- Cut Costs: 3D printers are a high-value investment – material costs for printing dental appliances and prosthetics are minimal, with most totaling just a few dollars each. Moreover, chairside production allows you to avoid costly lab fees. In all, a 3D printer is a purchase that can effectively pay for itself over time.
- Prepare for the Future: 3D dental printing is a fast-growing industry – its market value currently exceeds $3 billion and is expected to more than double over the next five years. With continual updates to underlying software and new applications coinciding with the development of novel materials, the future looks very bright for 3D printing – and for dentists who take advantage pf this innovative technology.
At Patterson Dental, we are committed to partnering with dental practices of all sizes to help oral health professionals practice extraordinary dentistry. We do this by living up to our promise of Trusted Expertise, Unrivaled Support every day.