HP Inc. is surely smiling a little brighter today, as it has deployed a number of Jet Fusion 3D printing systems to teledentistry pioneer SmileDirectClub, for a total of 49 operating systems. SmileDirectClub, which specializes in doctor-directed, remote clear aligner therapy, now has the capacity to produce over 50,000 unique mouth molds a day and nearly 20 million in the next 12 months. That’s a lot of corrected smiles!
The 49 HP Jet Fusion systems are expected to run 24×7 at SmileDirectClub, producing customized mouth molds for millions of customers. The deal marks the teledentistry company becoming the largest producer of Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printed parts in the United States. With its new capability, the company aims to revolutionize orthodontics and the production of clear aligners to help people straighten their teeth.
“SmileDirectClub is digitally transforming the traditional orthodontics industry, making it more personal, affordable and convenient for millions of consumers to achieve a smile they’ll love,” said Alex Fenkell, Co-Founder of SmileDirectClub. “HP’s breakthrough 3D printing and data intelligence platform makes this level of disruption possible for us, pushing productivity, quality and manufacturing predictability to unprecedented levels, all with economics that allow us to pass on savings to the consumers seeking treatment using our teledentistry platform.”
Disrupting orthodontics, with a smile
SmileDirectClub was founded in 2014 by Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman—who met as teens when they both wore braces. The pair realized that there was room for growth in the orthodontics industry, especially to democratize and increase accessibility for orthodontic care. Now, the company is a leader in the doctor-directed clear aligner sector, connecting licensed dentists and orthodontists to its proprietary teledentistry platform. To date, the company has served customers across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. (It also plans to expand to Australia and the UK this year.)
Though orthodontic care is today more prevalent than it was decades ago, there are still barriers that stand in the way of patients receiving it—namely, cost and accessibility. In the United States, for instance, 60% of counties do not have access to an orthodontist, while many others can not afford treatments. Teledentistry and HP’s 3D printing provide a solution to both of these challenges, offering a teeth straightening solution that can cost up to 60% less than traditional options.
SmileDirectClub’s production of clear aligners is reliant on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology, which prints all the mouth molds for each patient’s aligners and retainers. With 49 printers at work, the company can produce an average of over 50,000 personalized mouth molds a day. Within the next 12 months, the teledentistry company expects to print nearly 20 million mouth molds.
“SmileDirectClub and HP are reinventing the future of orthodontics, pushing the boundaries of customized 3D mass production and democratizing access to affordable, high-quality teeth straightening for millions of people,” said Christoph Schell, President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing at HP Inc. “Through this collaboration, HP is helping SmileDirectClub accelerate its growth, enabling a new era of personalized consumer experiences only made possible by industrial 3D printing and digital manufacturing.”
In addition to helping SmileDirectClub customers attain straighter smiles, HP is also working with the company to establish a new recycling program, that allows for unused 3D material and processed plastic mouth molds to be recycled into pellets for traditional injection molding.
HP is taking care of the material recycling with the aim of improving the sustainability of the production process.