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Adaptation of Dental Materials for Custom 3D Printing of Dental Prosthetics

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   This study examines the feasibility of modifying current dental material, polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), for 3D printing of dental prostheses. 

  Major changes in manufacturing and health care are happening as a result of the technological advancements in 3D printing.1The availability of more sophisticated and cost-effective instruments and better materials has helped reduce manufacturing time, turnaround times, and costs, making this a viable alternative to conventional dental labs.2,3

      3D printing is already revolutionizing clinical care in the dental field. Examples of this include fabrication of custom surgical guides, orthodontic appliances, investment parts and temporary crowns among others. These devices are fabricated with readily available industrial polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA).

  By determining the feasibility of utilizing a current dental material, polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), after modification for 3D printing of dental prostheses, cost reduction and turnaround time for patients compared to conventionally made or milled dentures may be possible. Although commercial PMMA filaments are available, they are currently not optimal (color, durability) for routine dental materials. Furthermore creation of these devices may be suitable for advancements in smart materials applications. 4,5

Under the Limitations of this study:

1.3D printable filaments of conventional dental PMMA were constructed for use in the BCN Technologies© Sigma 3D printer;

2.Printing conditions for custom 3D PMMA were determined and optimized;

3.Flexural strength analyses demonstrated a significant reduction in mechanical strength following 3D printing compared to conventional processing (60 MPavs 91 MPa, n=8, p<0.05). However, fiberglass inclusion significantly improved mechanical strength in both 3D printed and conventional processed PMMA (80 MPavs 148 MPa, n=8, p<0.05);

4.Flexural Strength of PMMA after thermal manipulation via 3D printing was reduced by 35% (p<0.05) before fiberglass addition, and 46%(p,0.05) reduction compared to pre-printing material after fiberglass addition.

5.Fit assessment between 3D-printed and conventional dentures on model casts was noted to be acceptable (um differences, p<0.05).

These results indicate the feasibility of combining digital imaging (CAD/CAM) and 3D printing as an economical technique with and rapid turn-around to generate routine dental prostheses.


Future Work:

1.Cost analysis, mechanical production and feasibility of construction of 3D PMMA dentures for mobile dental units and rural communities.
2.Development of ‘smart materials’ in use in host defense with release alone as well as sense-release functionality




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