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A Patient-Centered Legacy
Stratasys 3D printers offer an innovative approach to durable, esthetic, and comfortable denture bases
In business, finding a unique selling proposition that sets your company apart from the competition is sometimes the mother of invention. For brothers Arpad and Tibor Nagy, whose Master-Touch dental laboratory specialized in metal-frame removable partial dentures, that quest resulted in the development of a new material that would not only revolutionize a segment of the dental technology industry stuck in convention, but also change and elevate the patient experience. It all began with a downstream vision focused on improving patients’ lives, which included a search for a metal-free material and the associated laboratory processes that could make that vision a reality. The injection molding system that Arpad and Tibor developed in 1953 would fundamentally improve the esthetics of the end product while addressing the functional limitations of retention, support, and stability inherent in conventionally cast metal frameworks. The brothers began experimenting with a new nylon polymer that offered the strength and durability required of a partial denture base, while solving the often-heard concerns from patients about the less than esthetic appearance of the metal retention clasps and the fit, function, and feel of the metal-based appliances in the mouth. That was more than six decades ago, and what began in the 1950s as a quest to find a unique product and service that differentiated Master-Touch from the competition resulted in a flexible partial denture material and the production process known today as Valplast®.
The patient-centered legacy begun by Arpad and Tibor is now an international corporation in the trusted hands of Arpad’s son, Peter Nagy, and Peter’s nephew Justin Marks, CDT. Master-Touch remains the flagship laboratory and is operated as an independent entity focused on the research and development of new technologies, new applications, and new production methods. It also acts as an international education and technical training center. “We are continually looking to improve the quality, efficiency, and consistency in the laboratory technique for production of Valplast® flexible partial dentures,” said Nagy. “But most important to us is the patient focus that was a founding principle of Master-Touch and Valplast Corp.”
Nagy’s ultimate goal has been to further perfect the removable partial process and to explore how the company could use CAD/CAM technology to achieve their goals. One of the most critical phases of patient acceptance and the fit determination of the final appliance was the baseplate try-in. Using traditional methods of manufacture, a trial baseplate was created and sent to the restorative dentist to try in the patient’s mouth to ascertain the tooth arrangement and shade. Often overly thick and without clasps, the traditional baseplate try-in was not representative of the final partial denture in terms of fit, comfort, or retention. The traditional baseplate also did not provide the opportunity to test whether the cast being used to fabricate the appliance was accurate.
In 2006 Nagy and Marks began to explore new developments in CAD/CAM technology and how they could improve the production process. They identified the try-in as the most untapped area of improvement and a critical indicative phase of the process that could be aided by new technologies. Their thought was to deploy a material using a CAD/CAM process that would effectively provide technicians, dentists, and patients with a realistic prototype. The CAD/CAM-fabricated baseplate would be genuinely informative and revealing in the accuracy and precision of the appliance design, as well as in the comfort, fit, retention, and esthetics of the final partial denture base.
When CAD software that included design applications for the creation of partial dentures became available on the market, Nagy and Marks began designing virtual prototypes. “The software allowed us to create a prototype of the final appliance with very careful attention to precisely measured areas of block out and relief, angle, and path of insertion,” said Nagy. “We could use additional features of CAD software to determine whether the bite would interfere with the proposed position, design, and coverage of the base itself as well as the teeth. Now with the CAD figured out, we had to find a way to create the manufactured prototype.”
There was no question that 3D printing technology offered the best hope of creating a physical prototype. They needed to find a company that would provide a material that simulated the flexibility of a Valplast base. Nagy and Marks approached 3D printing manufacturers servicing the dental laboratory industry to inquire whether any were interested in developing a material for their machines that could be used in creating the prototype they envisioned. “This is where Stratasys became a critical member of our development team,” said Nagy. “They were the only company that offered to undertake the research and development of a proprietary resin that exhibited the same mechanical properties as the Valplast material and that could be printed using the Eden 260V.”
The ability to order a virtually designed and 3D-printed prototype of the finished appliance from Valplast’s Precise-Fit™ laboratory ( www.precise-fit.com) will now allow the assembly of a more indicative try-in. The Precise-Fit try-in provides the dentist and patient with a prototype that incorporates the clasps, coverage areas, anatomical indications, and reference points of the final appliance to validate the fit and comfort of the final appliance. “It snaps in just like the final appliance would and allows the dentist to evaluate comfort and fit and to make mechanical adjustments to the trial base as needed,” said Nagy. “The mechanically adjusted base is then returned to the processing laboratory and used for in-house investment of the final appliance.” Nagy says this process will eliminate many of the conventional steps in the production process for laboratories and will also help reduce remakes and the amount of time the dentist must spend in chairtime making adjustments to the final appliance.
Avi Cohen, Director of Global Dental at Stratasys, adds, “Stratasys is delighted that a leading dental company as Valplast has chosen our dental solution to improve its manufacturing processes. We both believe that, in order to redefine the dental laboratory industry, we must implement the leading 3D printing technology, for providing highly accurate and excellent quality models and parts at an affordable cost.”
Disclaimer: The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.
Stratasys Objet Eden260V
The Stratasys Objet Eden260V™ 3D printing system provides the ideal solution for dental laboratories, enabling quality improvement of dental restoration manufacturing and placement. Stratasys systems provide laboratories with the ability to rapidly manufacture digital stone models using the Eden260V 3D printing systems. 3D-printed dental models guarantee dentists a high level of precision in the placement of dental restorations that is difficult to achieve using freehand traditional techniques.
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