Stratasys unveils Objet260 Dental 3D Printer to advance adoption of digital dentistry

Market-leading 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has announced its new Stratasys Objet260 Dental 3D printer. Equipped with Polyjet Triple Jetting technology, the Stratasys Objet260 Dental can 3D print three different materials on a single tray, allowing the production of several applications under a single 3D print job.

The machine is to be formally unveiled at the LMT Lab Day 2018 in Chicago alongside two further dental products, flexible biocompatible material MEDFLX625, and Pop-Out Part (PoP) technology for the removal of supports from clear aligner arches.

Supporting the transition to digital dentistry

With the global dental market forecast to reach 37 billion U.S. dollars by 2021, Stratasys, like rival 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems (which yesterday launched its NextDent 5100 3D printer), is capitalizing on its experience of manufacturing machines and materials for the dental industry to appeal to a wider range of dental laboratories.

This push from 3D printing to dental technologies is in the opposite direction to companies like Straumann, which are moving incorporating 3D printing into existing dental businesses.

At the heart of Stratasys’ offering is its PolyJet Triple Jetting technology, which combines droplets of three base materials to 3D print objects made of multiple colors and materials in a single print run. It was launched in 2014 with the Objet500 Connex3 3D printer.

Clear aligners 3D printed on an Objet260 3D printer. Photo via Stratasys.Clear aligners 3D printed on an Objet260 3D printer. Photo via Stratasys.

The appeal of PolyJet Triple Jetting

The Objet260 Dental 3D printer can be used to manufacture surgical guides, models, and other appliances. On the 3D printer’s single material mode, these appliances can be produced with a shorter change-over and reduced material waste.

The Objet260 Dental also promises a more affordable solution for mid-sized labs looking to expand their services. An optional “Dental Selection” upgrade includes support for three further regular materials as well as special materials to reproduce a range of gum-like textures and natural tooth shades.

Reiterating Stratasys’ intentions to place digital dentistry “in the hands of more customers than ever before,” Stratasys Director of Healthcare Solutions Mike Gaisford said:

“There’s no denying the power of 3D printing for digital dentistry to significantly decrease turnaround time, reduce labor costs, and provide new streams of revenue. Multi-material 3D printing pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in dentistry today while unlocking the next-generation of applications for tomorrow.”

Additional materials and technology

Launched alongside the Objet260 Dental 3D printer, MEDFLX625 is a biocompatible material that allows dental and orthodontic laboratories to 3D print flexible and rigid biocompatible materials for direct print applications such as indirect bonding trays, such as surgical guides and soft-tissue implant models.

Additionally, PoP technology facilitates support removal with manual peel-off, which is especially useful for the high-volume production of clear aligner arches.

The Objet260 Dental can 3D print multiple materials simultaneously, including accurate models of the oral cavity. Photo via Stratasys.The Objet260 Dental can 3D print multiple materials simultaneously, including accurate models of the oral cavity. Photo via Stratasys.

Object260 Dental 3D Printer specifications

System size: 870 x 735 x 1200 mm 

Build size: 255 x 252 x 200 mm 

System mass: 264 kg

Material cabinet size: 330 x 1170 x 640 mm

Layer thickness: 16 microns (.0006 in.)

Build Resolution: 16-micron (high quality), 28-micron (high speed)

Compatible materials: VeroDent (MED670), VeroDentPlus (MED690), VeroGlaze (MED620), Clear Bio-compatible (MED610), VeroWhite, and TangoPlus

Support materials: SUP706 (soluble) and SUP705 (WaterJet removable)

Additional materials (Dental Selection upgrade): VeroYellow, VeroMagenta, TangoBlackPlus, and Digital Materials to reproduce a range of gum-like textures and natural tooth shades.

Software: Objet Studio

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Featured image shows the Objet260 Dental 3D printer. Photo via Stratasys.

Bath University researchers suggest 3D printing will advance membrane capabilities

Researchers at the University of Bath suggest developments in 3D printing techniques could enable membrane capabilities to be significantly advanced.

The work is part of the University’s Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering (CASE). It represents the first time researchers have assessed the impact 3D printing techniques could have on membrane fabrication.

Membranes are a semi-permeable selective barrier that isolate molecules in a mixture within a gas or liquid into two streams. A key example of this is the separation of salt from water for desalination using reverse osmosis membranes.

With prior applications in a variety of industries from medicine to art, and engineering to sportswear, its use in separation membrane engineering is relatively new. It has been suggested that 3D printing has the ability to create almost any geometrically complex shape or feature in a range of materials across different scales. Membranes are currently restricted mainly to tubular/ hollow fibre and flat surface configurations due to the limitations of current manufacturing processes. As a result, the precision of present membranes are limited in successfully separating certain properties.

The use of 3D printing offers novel membrane preparation techniques that can produce membranes of different shapes, types and designs. These can be more precisely designed, fabricated and controlled than any other membrane fabrication method currently available. Bath University’s study, which evaluates existing knowledge of the pros and cons of different 3D printing techniques, as well as the potential developments of membrane fabrication, identifies a bright future in which 3D printing will allow innovative and more accurate membranes.

Any increased capabilities may have significant implications for a number of key industries, including the water industry. These new membranes, with designer pores and surface shapes, will enhance micro-mixing and shear flow across the membrane surface. They will be able to reduce the energy and down-time associated with cleaning blockages and fouling of the membranes.

“This review is the first to explore the possibility and challenges of using 3D printing for producing separation membranes,” said Dr Darrell Patterson, Director of the Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering at the University of Bath. “Although 3D printing technology is not quite well enough developed to yet produce large scale membranes that will be cost competitive with existing products, this work does signal what the future possibilities are with 3D printing, to produce membranes beyond that which are currently available. (This includes) controlled complex pore structures, integrated surface patterns and membranes based on nature.”

The paper, titled ‘Perspective on 3D printing of separation membranes and comparison to related unconventional fabrication techniques, was published in the Journal of Membrane Science. It can also be viewed on the Science Direct website

3D Printing to Advance Human Rights

Amnesty_International_banner_-_23D printers can be used to crank out miniature, glow-in-the-dark Yoda heads, and I have my own collection of tiny Buddhist rabbits, ready to be placed anywhere that people might have forgotten to maintain their calm. There is no denying the fun that can be had with a 3D printer and, frankly, no reason to deny it. It is, however, important to remember that these machines are not all for play. Anybody who pays any attention already knows this; headlines are filled with stories of 3D printers’ contributions to life-saving operations, life-changing prosthetics, and life-affirming artistic creations.

In that same vein, a collaboration between Singularity University (SU) and Amnesty International is yet another effort to turn the products of 3D printing toward a higher cause. The first stage of their collaboration is focused on virtual reality as a means to engage the public and inspire action in the pursuit of the advancement of human rights. On the horizon is work to integrate other cutting-edge technologies in the fight against injustice. The CEO and associate founder of SU, Rob Nail, discussed the connections he hopes will be made:

“Core to Singularity University is our mission to ensure basic needs are met for all people, sustain and improve quality of life and mitigate future risks. Today, we are at a pivotal moment where technology has the power to significantly impact this mission, as demonstrated by Amnesty International’s ability to leverage virtual reality to help with its social justice campaigns. We look forward to future collaborations and the opportunity to explore with them other powerful tools ranging from 3D printing to robotics.”

There has been, as of yet, no announcement of specific 3D printing projects to be undertaken, but rather the understanding of the ways in which 3D printing can contribute to promoting human rights is in and of itself the focus of the collaboration. Reassurance that this is an appropriate path to take comes from the successful deployment of virtual reality in the advancement of their cause.refugee5-1024x641

Amensty’s Deputy Director of Global Issues, Sherif Elsayed-Ali, explained the foundation upon which this partnership is being constructed:

“Many human rights challenges arising from conflicts, persecution and inequality can seem daunting and unsolvable. In addressing them, we must combine investigations with activism and practical solutions. With innovative uses of technology, we can develop new ways of raising awareness of human rights issues, engage more people and find practical solutions for human rights problems.”

None of this will be as simple as determining the geometry of an object to be produced. In fact, the products themselves may not be what this partnership needs to work to develop. Perhaps instead the answer will lie in creating systems to be utilized or a means by which greater access to 3D printing can be given to those who need it. In other words, rather than assuming there is some ‘thing’ that needs to be developed in order for 3D printing to become part of the solution, maybe it is the process itself that provides hope.

SingularityU_Logo_Horiz_ColorAfter all, one of the great hallmarks of 3D printing has been the democratization of creation that it grants. Somewhere in this productive democratization may lie the key to unlocking an out of the way, off the beaten path solution that provides a pattern for allowing other solutions to emerge.

Silk-based bio-ink can be 3D printed at room temperature, could help advance tissue engineering

Sep 3, 2015 | By Alec

While lives are already being saved by quality 3D printing in academic hospitals all over the world, most of these cases involve 3D printed implants and replicas used to prepare for unusual surgeries. Doubtlessly, the real 3D printing revolution in the medical world is yet to come: bio 3D printing. Involving special bio-inks made from biocompatible polymers and cells, these could be used for 3D printing just about everything in the human body. And while most existing bio-inks are very limited in their usage, a team of scientists from Tufts University has now developed a silk-based bio-ink that is far more flexible and use and can even be 3D printed at room temperature.

For while the concept of bio-inks sounds fantastic – after all, 3D printing cartilage, blood vessels and even entire organs truly saves lives – the truth is that current bio-inks just aren’t very potent yet. Most of these inks with express 3D printing purposes in mind are made from a variety of materials, including thermoplastics, silicones, collagen, gelatin or alginate. While all have different properties, they share a few negative characteristics. For example, all are highly vulnerable and fluctuating temperatures, changes in pH values and even crosslinking methods – which are all crucial in their use – can also damage the cell structures that are 3D printed. This means that other materials need to be added to improve the bio-inks, and some have been successful with a number of additives, including cytokines and antibiotics, which can be useful to control cell functions or deal with infection dangers.

However, it is obvious that none of those options are really perfect, as what we need is a bio-ink capable of withstanding or not even needing fluctuating temperatures, changes in pH values and crosslinking methods. This has seriously stalled the advance of 3D bioprinting research. But now, finally, it looks like the solution has been discovered. To address the limitations of bio-inks, professor David L. Kaplan, professor of engineering at Tufts University, and his team turned to silk proteins.

With it, they developed a bio-ink that doesn’t even require these harsh processing conditions, but that can instead be simply 3D printed at room temperature. As they explain in a paper published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, they created it by combining silk proteins (which are biocompatible) with glycerol, a non-toxic sugar alcohol very commonly used by the pharmaceutical industry.

This created a biocompatible ink that was clear, self-curing, flexible and very suitable for a number of laboratory applications. It was even very stable in water, so very versatile. Most importantly, ‘[it avoids] the need for chemical or photo initiators,’ they write.

The research team behind this silk-based ink very optimistic, and have stated that it could be used in a variety of biomedical applications. As part of their research, they developed inks for specific 2D and 3D printing applications. ‘By varying the formulations the crystallinity of the silk polymer matrix could be controlled to support printing in 2D and 3D formats interfaced with CAD geometry and with good feature resolution,’ they write. Furthermore, the self-curing characteristic of this ink was optimized to enable to formation of structural and support materials during printing.

The hope is that these ‘biocompatible aqueous protein inks’ can now start a new wave of bioprinted innovation. Perhaps we won’t have to wait years before seeing some actually applicable medical results after all.

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

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