3D Printing Terms Dental Technicians Should Know

With fallling prices and an ever-growing number of materials being made available, 3D printing is fast becoming a staple for use by dental laboratories in the fabrication of a wide variety of digital dental applications.Image Description

There are many terms used in the discussion of 3D printing technology. Below are just a few of the most common terms and their meaining.

An understanding of these tems will help you better understand the technology and help you make more informed decisions when invetigating purchase options.

LASER GALVO – The original form of Stereolithography. Seldom used now.

SLA – Stereolithography or Photo Polymerization Resin Printing. Uses a light source, generally a laser, to solidify the resin.

FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling or Extrusion Printing. Uses a heat source to soften material and then places it in position.

DMP – Direct Metal Printing uses a vat of powdered metal and a laser to fuse the particles together

DLP – Digital Light Processing. This uses a projector light to fuse photo-polymerizing resin in layers

MEMJET – Uses an inkjet head to print resins (3D Systems Type)

POLYJET – Uses Ink Jet Heads, similar to Memjet (Stratasys Type)

GRANULAR – Gypsum combined with a cyanoacrylate fortifier. Old system not used much in dentistry.

BUILD PLATE – This is the surface upon which the layers of material are deposited. The larger the build plate (length by width) the more objects you can place.

XYZ AXIS – Mathematical directions in space, Front/Back, Left/ Right, Up/Down. The length of the ‘Z’ axis lets you know how high the build can be. This is the measurement that lets you “STACK” the printed objects or place them long axis up.

DPI – Dots Per Inch. The higher the number, the clearer the image

‘Z’ LAYER THICKNESS – Measurement of the thickness of each deposited layer. Measured in Microns somewhere from 1-100 generally. The thicker the deposit, the faster the print time but the less accurate the print job.

‘X and Y’ RESOLUTION – measured as a distance. Very similar to pixels in television. The smaller the X/Y Resolution (the smaller the pixels) the more accurate the printed piece.

NANOMETER – A measurement of light noted as nm. Generally printers are either 405nm or 385nm.

OPEN SOURCE – Simply means that you can use whichever resin material you would like. However, it must match the nanometers of the light source in the printer.

*Special thanks to Craig Pickett, CDT, RG, TE
Written by Craig Pickett, CDT, RG, TE Manager of Technical Education for Whip Mix Corporation. *