Rapid prototyping has been touted as the production technology of the future because of its efficiency and labor and material savings. LMT Editor Kelly Carr talks with Avi Cohen, Director of Global Dental at Stratasys—formed by the merger of Stratasys and Objet Ltd. at the end of last year—about the potential of 3D printing in our industry and his company's new material and 3D printer.
LMT: Recently, 3D printing has been in the public eye because of numerous reports in the mainstream media. President Obama even referred to it in his State of the Union address, saying 3D printing "has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything." What do you think will be the impact of 3D printing in the dental laboratory market?
Cohen: With equipment and material costs dropping and technology improvements coming at a breakneck pace, digital dentistry is becoming an increasingly attractive and affordable option for all size laboratories. From a technology perspective, 3D printing is a hot topic for laboratories because it can increase production capacity and accuracy, accelerate production times and eliminate traditional stone model usage.
I believe we're at a tipping point. The dental market is changing rapidly because the 3D printer marketplace has developed a better understanding of dentistry and is developing products that better address dentists' and dental lab owners' needs. As digital impressioning and intraoral scanners become more widely used, Stratasys with its Objet line of 3D printers is in position to transform dentistry to digital technology.
Digital dentistry is not the wave of the future; it is occurring now and it's the secret to dental lab survival in the next decade. Stratasys is taking this market very seriously. We are continually developing new applications to provide laboratories with the opportunity to carve out niche revenue streams for their businesses and help their clients save chairtime. For example, with our 3D printers, laboratories can print implant surgical guides and positioning guides for veneer placement to help their dentist-clients automate their procedures.
LMT: Tell us more about Stratasys' new material and machine. What's new and different about them?
Cohen: The new Objet30 Ortho-Desk is used to manufacture models for orthodontic appliances including clear aligners and retainers and delivery and positioning trays. It's specifically designed for smaller labs and orthodontic offices because of its affordable price point: approximately $39,900 which includes the machine, installation and training.
The new material, MED690, is the second-generation version of the Objet VeroDent, an acrylic-based photopolymer. It was developed in response to customer feedback requesting a darker, more gypsum-like material. Consequently, it's more opaque than VeroDent and offers higher resolution details. Like VeroDent, MED690 has a low price point compared to other polyjet materials for general purpose use. The material is available for both Objet Eden and Objet30 OrthoDesk customers.
LMT: Can you elaborate on the Stratasys/Objet merger?
Cohen: In December of 2012, Stratasys, Inc. and Objet Ltd. merged to form Stratasys Ltd. and now trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol SSYS. Stratasys serves a wide variety of industries and offers three 3D printing and direct digital manufacturing solutions: inkjet-based PolyJet® for prototyping and manufacturing parts with high feature detail and fine surface finish, Solidscape® Drop-on-Demand thermoplastic ink-jetting technology for complex wax patterns for investment casting of finished parts, and FDM® for functional prototypes and production parts.
With more than 260 channel partners around the world, the combined company has a deep well of talent and a strong board and management team to lead us successfully as we continue to pave a new way forward for the 3D printing industry. We are well positioned to address customer needs across the entire dental spectrum and we will continue to work closely with our laboratory customers to ensure their business growth.
Avi Cohen is the Director of Global Dental at Stratasys Ltd. where he manages worldwide dental and medical solutions. He has both marketing and business development experience in medical CT and MRI, dental scanning and software solutions and 3D printing, modeling and design. In 1999, Cohen joined Objet Ltd. (now Stratasys) as the Global Customer Support Manager and then became involved in developing and setting up global applications solutions with a focus on the growing medical and dental segments.