3D Printing delivers astonishing fit and finish for dental restorations

Article by Rod Mackay updated June 10, 2014


Pacor Dental Ceramics, owned by Andrew Taylor, has specialized in the creation of crown and bridge dental restorations for over thirty years. During much of that time, Taylor relied on a dripping wax technique to carve restorations out of general inlay wax. However, building wax-ups by hand is a lengthy and painstaking process that can yield poor results.

A new approach to Wax-ups

In May 2013, Taylor purchased a 3D printer from a division of Stratasys that utilizes wax deposition modeling technology. This technology provides Taylor and his lab with an automated means of producing multiple wax-ups simultaneously for crowns, copings and bridges with extremely accurate results.

We build our wax patterns overnight and are pleased to find wax work that needs little more than the attachment of a sprue waiting for us in the morning

Now, instead of hand-waxing, Taylor and his team can design and produce dental wax-ups with superior margin lines and smooth surface finish thanks to the extremely high resolution finish (5,000 x 5,000 x 8,000 dpi) provided by the 3D printer. This benefit reduces the time needed to seat castings and perform post-processing.

CrownWorx dental restorations

CrownWorx dental restorations

“The fit and finish of the resulting patterns once they’re printed is astonishing,” states Taylor. Plus, the 3D printer ’s large build plate can easily produce 40 restorations a day when run overnight. This allows Taylor and his team to have wax-ups ready and waiting for them each morning. “CAD software takes care of undercuts and imperfections and designs space for cement; it is therefore a simple matter of placing the printed pattern on the die to check that all is well.”

Better Materials, Better Results

“We produce highly aesthetic restorations for very discerning clients who expect very high quality results,” explains Taylor.

It is Taylor’s belief that having control over the dental material to be pressed is paramount to achieving the desired quality his customers insist upon. He was delighted when the wax-like materials used by his 3D printer burned-out without leaving ash or residue; nor did the materials shrink, crack or expand when cast.

There are no marginal gaps and it’s just perfect, I’ve yet to encounter anything that betters it…the wax that is being printed is very nearly wax.

He also learned that the material was exceptionally stable, yet could still be adjusted if needed before casting. Taylor believes that it is this workability that makes these materials feel so familiar, and is “second nature” to dental technicians that have used wax for years.

“We can maintain traditions and use the skills that make us dental technicians while embracing cutting edge CAD/CAM technology,” states Taylor.

Individuality vs. Uniformity

Taylor has called his 3D printer “a true revelation” because of the many benefits it affords his business.

“There are many positive aspects of digital production,” he states, “but from the point of view of maintaining traditional skills that will enhance production, 3D wax printing allows the all-important manipulation of frameworks and monolithic structures (so that we can) stamp a level of individuality on the uniformity of digitization.”

Interested? Learn more about the Stratasys Dental Series of 3D Printers

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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.