Device for Orthodontists

Smiles in a box – by Accante and Forward AM

A smile is a key element of human interaction, expressing happiness as one of the primary human emotions – so it’s no surprise that showing straight, healthy teeth is very important to most of us.

Project Breakdown

Industry
Medical

Product
Ultracur3D® ST 45 B

Why Forward AM?
High-performance resin providing the required mechanical performance as well as excellent end product surface finish

The result
Enabling customer to manufacture their end product at a high quality standard without having to invest in injection molding

For those not blessed with beautifully straight teeth, dental braces are commonly used in orthodontics to align and reposition them, also improving dental health. While braces are very familiar to all of us from our teenage years, wearing braces also by adults has been continuously on the rise for years.

Challenge: Time-consuming bonding process

When placing braces on a patient’s teeth, bonding is an essential part of the process. After cleaning and preparing the teeth, the orthodontist applies a bonding cement on the reverse side of each tooth bracket, which are then placed precisely on the individual tooth. A UV-intensive light is then used to cure this cement – and once cured, the straightening wires are attached. The bonding and curing in particular is a time-consuming process, also requiring the orthodontist to have an assistant’s support to rapidly apply the adhesive on each bracket and then hand the pre-coated bracket with a tweezer to the orthodontist to place it on the patient’s teeth. This also hinders the assistant from other tasks regarding caring for the patient.

Solution: The OrthoBox – the orthodontist’s 3D printed companion

French startup Accante specializes in designing and manufacturing solutions based on Additive Manufacturing. Identifying the challenge that orthodontists face when it comes to the bonding procedure, Accante developed a new medical device that facilitates the application of brackets on patients’ teeth – the OrthoBox. This innovative solution enables the orthodontist to handle the bonding procedure alone, without any assistant to apply the adhesive and laboriously hand over each single bracket one by one. This patented mechanism now enables the bonding procedure for every bracket at the same time, unlocking major time savings. The OrthoBox keeps pre-coated brackets in complete darkness for 24 hours, enabling the curing process to be externally and automatically at the precise moment required, without the need for any manual intervention by the orthodontist. Once the patient is comfortable in the orthodontist’s chair, all brackets can be positioned very quickly and without an assistant. Moreover, the optimized ergonomic shape of the OrthoBox facilitates standardized motions by the orthodontist to bond all brackets reliably and evenly – and save around 30% of time over the whole procedure.

The 3D printed OrthoBox with tweezers to hold the pre-coated brackets out of light before the bonding procedure (Source: Accante).

An innovative mechanism that keeps the pre-coated brackets together with the tweezers out of light enables an assistant to prep one OrthoBox set of brackets up to 24 hours prior to the placement procedure. Once the brackets have been set by the OrthoBox, the orthodontist can bond them alone in a far more ergonomic procedure and free up the assistant’s time.

For Accante, developing and manufacturing the OrthoBox became possible by using the 3D printing technology Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in combination with the high-performance resin Ultracur3D® ST 45 B by Forward AM. Moving into the design and production phase, Accante quickly realized that injection molding was not an option: The high cost of mold tooling and the need to redesign all parts according to injection molding requirements would have prevented the startup from realizing their business model. Leading-edge LCD 3D printing technology convinced them thanks to its outstanding accuracy, perfect repeatability, high print speed and very low maintenance requirement.

The individual slots of the OrthoBox being printed (Source: Accante).

Each OrthoBox features 50 3D printed parts in Forward AM’s advanced resin

Accante’s search for the perfect 3D printing material indicated that the Ultracur3D® ST 45 B resin by Forward AM was the perfect match: Developed specifically for tough applications, it delivers an excellent combination of high strength, long-term toughness as well as superb impact resistance. Especially suited for high-performance functional parts requiring high accuracy and mechanical strength, Ultracur3D® ST 45 B tops it off by delivering an outstanding surface finish, giving the end product very high-quality haptics. Even better, the excellent print speed of LCD technology enables Accante to keep the per-unit cost low – for one OrthoBox, the 3D printing cost is just 40 EUR while the investment in injection-mold tooling would have been well over 160,000 EUR.

The complete 3D printed OrthoBox consists of more than 50 3D printed parts (Source: Accante).

By leveraging the benefits of Additive Manufacturing, Accante was able to successfully develop and bring to market a highly innovative medical device that is now officially classified as a Class 1 Medical Device. Using the OrthoBox enables orthodontists to save valuable time during the bonding process – and reorganize their staff’s capacity, as an assistant is no longer needed for this specific task. The time saved can be used for performing more value-adding tasks centered around the individual patient and their needs.

“For us, Additive Manufacturing presents an ideal alternative to plastic injection-molding for small and medium-sized production runs such as our OrthoBox. Using Forward AM’s advanced Ultracur3D® ST 45 B resin enabled us to manufacture professionally at far lower cost and far higher speed.”

Stéphane Watré, Cofounder, Accante.

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