SmarTech Analysis has published the fifth edition of its Additive Manufacturing in Dentistry report. The firm projects that the total market for AM in dentistry will surpass $2.7 billion (USD) in 2019 (hardware, services, materials and software). The report also says that by 2022 as many as 500 million dental devices and restorations will be produced annually via additive manufacturing, driving the overall segment to top $9 billion by the end of the forecast period in 2028.
Scott Dunham, VP of Research at SmarTech Analysis and author of the report, notes that an emerging dental industry transformation is taking place from converging forces –with 3D printing technology at the center of the change. The flexible, digital print processes now being rapidly adopted will help catalyze other ongoing trends in dentistry, including higher levels of chairside and in-office dental device production, laboratory business model evolution, and a focus on corporate dentistry.
Within this scenario, direct and indirect end-use applications such as clear dental aligners could change dental 3D printing forever. “Clear dental aligners, like those marketed by Align Technologies under the Invisalign brand, have grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years,” Dunham said during a recent Q&A session run in partnership with 3dpbm. “The vast, overwhelming majority of these devices are produced via a combination of 3D printing and traditional thermoforming, and are perhaps the single highest volume application for 3D printing technologies in the world today. Clearly, this is an area of great interest to the 3D printing industry at large, but also the dental industry.”
All of this is being enabled by the next generation of dental 3D printing processes which are now commercializing or nearing commercialization, which will collectively cause intense competitive changes in the dental 3D printing market over the next five years.
About the AM in Dentistry Report
Across regional dental markets, a growing focus in the last year has been placed on increasing access to dental care in the face of aging populations in the West and improving access to quality care in emerging economies in Asia, South America, and areas of the Middle East. SmarTech anticipates that low-cost dental printers, and the next generation of highly productive, cost-effective dental 3D printers, can help serve these needs in the future
The level of industry activity and collaboration in the dental printing space in the last year has not slowed. The most strategically significant technical evolutions in printer hardware are the development of automated systems and the development of higher printing speed systems, both of which stand to significantly improve productivity and potential for use in-office, as well as further adoption in areas of dentistry such as clear aligners and denture production.
The future of material jetting technology for dentistry will be driven by its ability to address unmet needs in dental 3D printing; printing of highly functional restorations using dental composites that can be produced and shaded in a single system for the creation of temporary crowns and bridges, dentures, and ultimately permanent restorations. These developments will position material jetting technology even further into competition with vat photopolymerization technologies of today, further threatening those in the incumbent vat photopolymerization segment who are not providing significant increases in automation, speed, and other value-added features.
This new study – by far the most in-depth and complete overview of this key segment for the AM industry at large – has integrated an expanded market model scope providing detailed market forecast insights perfected over the past four years of interacting with the dental printing community. For the first time, Additive Manufacturing in Dentistry now features both a full written analysis of the opportunity landscape and trends and a complete market data and forecast database accompanying the report which features an incredible 69 data exhibits covering:
Hardware metrics – dental 3D printer sales, installations, and revenue data by technology type, printer classification, end-user group, region, and country, as well as competitive market shares by technology, dental end-user segment, and region.
We anticipate a future of dental care in which 3D printing technologies are at the center of the industry, producing the vast majority of dental devices and restorations, in an increasingly distributed manner and increasingly closer to the point of careScott Dunham, VP of Research, SmarTech Analysis
What it means for dental laboratories
The consolidation of dental laboratories and dental practices alike has been one of the biggest multi-year trends in dental care worldwide over the past several years. An integral component on the laboratory side of this trend has been the adoption of digital processes which have put pressure on the classical dental technician artisanship using analog fabrication methods for dental devices, meaning that the high number of historically small labs with just a few technicians struggle to compete with larger labs who are leveraging digital techniques. Of course, small labs have had success in adopting lower-cost dental print technologies, but on the whole, often these smaller businesses don’t have the purchasing power of larger labs for cutting edge dental equipment. Meanwhile, to a lesser degree, adoption of digital milling technologies for ‘chairside’ or ‘point of care’ dental device fabrication have laid a foundation for a potential dental industry shift affecting the dental lab’s role.
Meanwhile, dental offices and clinics are also being consolidated through the rise in corporate dentistry or chain dentistry. With larger corporate networks of clinics or a rise of multi-doctor single practices, the clinical side is also shifting to become a prime target for integration of dental 3D printing technologies as they increase capital purchasing budgets across larger organizations, and increase the attractiveness of producing some dental devices directly in-house.
“We anticipate a future of dental care in which 3D printing technologies are at the center of the industry, producing the vast majority of dental devices and restorations, in an increasingly distributed manner and increasingly closer to the point of care. This same trend –producing parts closer to the point of use –is an unstoppable, yet slow-moving, trend in additive manufacturing in the age of Industry 4.0,” Dunham said.
Dental laboratories should not be overly concerned with going out of business because all dental clients will eventually be producing everything themselves in their clinics or offices. However, they will likely have to think about their business model differently because a greater share of device production will move in-house thanks to the increasing capabilities of 3D printing technology. “As a result, labs of the future may need to shift their business focus to becoming enablers of 3D printing in the office by providing efficient, effective dental device design services, and providing clinical groups better support for their 3D printing operations by providing overflow capacity, training services, and more,” Dunham concluded.
The dental industry has a number of different end user profiles that are all potentially and currently being served by 3D printing technology, but no provider which exclusively develops dental solutions across all the technologies which make sense for each of these users –yet. There is an opportunity for a number of different companies to position themselves as the only dental additive technology provider to offer next-generation solutions for the dentist chairside, the laboratory technician in the lab, and the engineers in the dental production center.