Proslab, a full service dental laboratory, based in Canterbury Australia has overcome issues with human error and accuracy that it was encountering with traditional ways of manufacturing removable partial dentures by incorporating Renishaw’s additive manufacturing solutions.
Background: Manufacturing Challenges for Proslab
Earlier, Proslab used to print dentures in resin using lost-wax casting technique in cobalt chrome once the design of the dentures were ready in CAD. However, achieving high levels of accuracy for dentures was difficult with this process. This is mainly because the process also involved heating and cooling of the dentures.
As a result, the dentures lost accuracy because of dimensional changes that occurred due to uncontrolled heating and cooling. This led to a lot of reworks of the frameworks that were being sent to the dentist and fitted to a patient thereby increasing cost and reduced turnover for Proslab.
How Renishaw Helped?
Proslab turned to Renishaw – a global engineering company that offers industrial-grade additive manufacturing solutions, to help it fully digitalises its manufacturing process using additive manufacturing.
To eliminate the errors caused because of traditional ways of manufacturing and to demonstrate the accuracy of additive manufacturing, Renishaw manufactured sample parts of the dentures at its Healthcare Centre of Excellence in Miskin using its AM 400 metal additive manufacturing system, near Cardiff in the UK. Speaking about the process, Alex Harris, Applications Engineer at Renishaw, said, “Our dental production facility runs daily, so there was extensive data to prove that additive manufacturing was a viable if not ideal solution.”
Impressed by the quality offered by Renishaw’s additive manufacturing solution, Proslab decided to purchase Renishaw’s AM 400 metal additive manufacturing system. Renishaw’s AM 400 metal additive manufacturing system enables the production of removable partial dentures directly from a CAD file.
This helps in eliminating the additional casting step. Frameworks are built in 40-micron layers of CE marked cobalt chrome powder and built by laser powder bed fusion (PBF), using a high-powered ytterbium fibre laser. However, integrating the system into the company posed several challenges as it required Proslab to change its internal processes and business model.
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To successfully implement the new technology, Proslab required training and support, which is not universally offered by additive manufacturing system providers. However, Renishaw ensured that the transition was smooth and offered Proslab ongoing support and conducted a week-long training course with Proslab’s staff.
Proslab has now fully digitalised the manufacture of its cobalt chrome removable partial dentures and now features in what is touted as the first metal additive manufacturing machine for dental applications in Australia.
The results that Proslab achieved using additive manufacturing can be best explained in the words of Synefias, who stated that “Proslab is now able to produce the most accurate frameworks possible.”
“Directly printing from a CAD file means we have reduced the number of in-house remakes due to error by 100 per cent. If any error were to occur, we’d quickly be able to identify the source and amend it, added Synefias.”
Offering details of how AM helped increase turnover, Synefias continued, “The frameworks we produce are now guaranteed to fit every time, which means we have been able to raise turnover”. “The difference in fit has been amazing – we are now gaining more customers for it as we can ensure that customers will receive the best possible fitted dentures.
“We required a high level of support and the service we received has been excellent and, in my opinion, Renishaw has been perfect. The project has been such a success that we plan to purchase another machine,” concluded Synefias.
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