Formlabs is the latest company to make a CES 2019 announcement. The company has introduced two new 3D printing products: Elastic Resin, said to be the company’s softest resin yet, and Digital Dentures, a cost-effective solution for the production of dentures.
In addition to launching the new materials, Formlabs is also exhibiting an array of products at the consumer electronics event in Las Vegas this week, including a print farm of over 40 Form 2 printers. The company will also be highlighting its partnership with Gillette for 3D printing customized razor handles.
Let’s take a look at the first new material unveiled by Formlabs at CES 2019: Elastic Resin. The material, part of Formlab’s Engineering Resin family for the Form 2 SLA 3D printer, is reportedly the most pliable material in the series, exhibiting a Shore durometer of 50A as well as high elongation and energy return. When printed, the material finish resembles that of molded silicone.
The release of Elastic Resin marks an exciting step for Formlabs in overcoming the challenges associated with printing elastic resins. As the company explains, “Developing soft stereolithography (SLA) resins can be challenging. Parts must be highly elastic, yet strong enough not to tear during printing—two properties that are typically diametrically opposed.”
Elastic Resin is now a viable, 3D printable alternative to soft silicone and urethane material, which typically require molds to be formed into things like wearable, medical models, robotic parts and props. Compared to other soft 3D printing materials on the market, Elastic Resin is reportedly able to handle multiple cycles, as opposed to just “one or two cycles.”
The pliable engineering resin is well suited for producing small to moderate batches of soft flexible parts as well as prototypes. Though moldmaking might still be the best option for large production volumes or for final part production, Elastic Resin can be leveraged to speed up product development cycles thanks to the quick turnaround and design flexibility afforded by 3D printing.
One particularly notable application for the new material is in the production of patient specific anatomical models. Thanks to its transparent colour, the material is well suited for producing models for cases in cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, surgical oncology and other specialties.
“Elastic Resin’s opacity illuminates internal cavities well and its durability means that educators, trainees, and clinicians can handle and examine models without worry of breakage,” commented Sanjay Prabhu, MBBS, FRCR; Pediatric Neuroradiologist and Clinical Director, SIMPeds3D, Boston Children’s Hospital. “This material will be of particular interest to cardiovascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, as well as those conducting fluid dynamics studies and working in catheterization labs. It is relatively cost effective when compared with other similar materials on the market, which can only help accelerate adoption of 3D printing in medicine.”
Formlabs also announced the availability of its Digital Dentures solution, which it calls “the first truly accessibly direct 3D printed dental prosthetic.” The solution, which comprises of Denture Base Resin and Denture Teeth Resin, enables dental labs to product custom dentures in a more cost and time efficient manner.
Presently, Digital Dentures is only available in the United States, though Formlabs says it is working with partners to make the materials available elsewhere.
Using non-digital processes, denture production is an arduous and time-consuming task, requiring multiple patient visits and a slow, multi-step workflow. Further, the process also requires extensive expertise and the number of technicians with the skills to produce them are limited. With the advent and proliferation of 3D printing, however, denture production is improving and being simplified.
Among the benefits of Formlabs’ Digital Dentures solution are:
- Low-cost production: the material costs only about $10 per part compared to $50 for a traditional acrylic denture
- Accurate and consistent results: the 3D printing production requires fewer steps and this entails less variability.
- Intuitive tools: the digital workflow can be integrated easily into dental lab workflows and has a smaller learning curve than traditional methods.
- Simplified, fast remakes: digital denture designs can be reused, shared, modified and easily reproduced.
- Customized teeth: with 3D printing, dentists have the ability to offer truly customized dentures to patients.
“Today’s digital denture workflow begins after the laboratory pours and articulates the wax-rim and final model,” Formlabs elaborates. “A technician digitizes the model and wax-rim with a desktop 3D scanner, then designs the denture digitally and 3D prints a try-in or the final denture.”
Presently, only about 1% of dentures are produced using digital tools. With its new Digital Dentures solution, Formlabs is hoping to change that reality. You can read more about Formlabs evolution as a 3D printing company here.