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Additive Manufacturing, Laser Sintering a "Bridge" to the Future in the Dental Industry

Until recently, laser sintering of parts and implants for dental units was uncommon. Today the technology is on its way toward widespread acceptance: EOS, the technology and market leader for design-driven, integrated e-Manufacturing solutions for Additive Manufacturing (AM), estimates that in the past six years about fifty million laser-sintered dental crowns, copings, and bridges have been created in over 60 direct metal laser-sintering (DMLSTM) systems worldwide. In some countries, EOS' market share for metal (primarily cobalt chrome) dental units is 80 to 100 percent.

EOS and its partners in the dental industry are currently working on manufacturing a certified cobalt chrome partial that will officially debut at the International Dental Show (IDS) in Cologne, Germany this March.

Laser sintering will produce even more dramatic changes to the dental market in the decades ahead. "Our present product line supporting lost wax is probably going to be obsolete in ten to fifteen years," predicts Bill Oremus, president of Rhode Island-based BEGO USA, a division of 113-year-old German dental giant BEGO GmbH. "The end of casting is approaching as the application of additive manufacturing to dentistry begins to alter the landscape."

The high quality, durability, and cost-effectiveness of laser-sintered products led BEGO USA to purchase an EOSINT M 270 two years ago. "The U.S. market is primed to take advantage of the cost and time savings that additive manufacturing can provide," Oremus says.

"Any lab that uses our DMLS system at or near capacity to make dental units can get the best cost-to-part ratio in the industry," says Thomas Thiel, a Medical Dental Technologist and an engineer in EOS' dental applications division. "With DMLS, you can make 450 copings and bridges in a day, whereas a dental technician using lost wax casting might make 20."

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