3D Systems Acquires 3D Printing Dental Materials Leader
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on February 01, 2017 |
3D Systems expands its materials range with the acquisition of an established 3D printing dental mat...

Last year, ENGINEERING.com learned that 3D Systems' new CEO, Vyomesh Joshi, sees the company's Healthcare Solutions division as a paragon on which to base all of 3D Systems' verticals. This year, the company has already begun to strengthen that division further with the release of a new virtual reality (VR) simulation solution for training surgeons in a virtual environment and, now, with the acquisition of a leading dental materials manufacturer.

NextDent’s line of 3D printing materials for the dental industry. (Image courtesy of NextDent.)
NextDent’s line of 3D printing materials for the dental industry. (Image courtesy of NextDent.)

3D Systems has just announced the purchase of Vertex-Global Holding B.V., a maker of dental materials under the Vertex and NextDent brands. NextDent has so far developed 12 dental 3D printing materials for which it has received regulatory approval in over 70 countries. These materials are engineered for 3D printing such dental devices as models, drilling templates, dentures, crowns, bridges, trays and orthodontic splints.

The acquisition will allow 3D Systems to offer these materials to its customers, but, perhaps more interestingly, the company will also be able to use the materials with its Figure 4 system. Though details about a release for Figure 4 have not been made public, we do know how the technology works and about its potential for automated manufacturing.

The printing system itself relies on a continuous digital light processing method that allows for rapid fabrication and very fine detail. When paired with industrial robotic arms, Figure 4 is able to automate the manufacturing workflow, with the arms removing prints, dropping them into a post-processing station, positioning fresh build plates for new print jobs and even performing inspection, as shown in the video below.

Joshi spoke of the potential for Figure 4 in the dental industry, "With the combination of our disruptive Figure 4 platform and NextDent's revolutionary materials, we have the unique opportunity to deliver transformative digital production solutions from the dentist's chair to the dental lab.”

Rik Jacobs, former CEO of NextDent & Vertex Dental, will head 3D Systems’ global dental business, while chief development &regulatory officer of NextDent & Vertex Dental, Connie Peterse-van der Koppel, will oversee the dental development and regulatory efforts of 3D Systems. Jacobs actually received a 3D-printed dental crown made with NextDent materials early last year.

According to SmarTech Markets Publishing, the value brought by 3D printing to the dentistry market will reach $3.1 billion by 2020. If true, this acquisition will enable 3D Systems to grab a share of that market. More importantly, the combination of Figure 4 and NextDent materials will allow the company to improve patient care with personally tailored solutions that would be impossible without 3D printing technology.

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