3d printers

SprintRay enters the dental market with 3D printers

A typical dental impression or mouth scan for a crown or nighttime guard can take a few weeks to make and requires a few patient visits.
But now, thanks to new 3D printing technology from Glassell Park-based SprintRay Inc., the finished dental product can be printed in an hour at the dentist’s office while the patient waits. No more sending prints or scans to a third-party lab.

“It’s the new model of dentistry: delivering the finished crown or mouthguard to the patient in less than an hour,” said Amir Mansouri, CEO of SprintRay. “This means fewer visits for patients and less work and costs for the dentist.”

Mansouri

SprintRay does not actually 3D print dental products. Instead, it sells 3D printers through distributor networks to dental practices. The products are printed by the dentists themselves, after initial training and guidance from SprintRay.

Although SprintRay declined to disclose earnings, the company said demand for the printers was robust enough to open a new 40,000-square-foot facility in Glassell Park last month to manufacture and assemble the printers and train dentists and members of distributor networks. on how to use them.

The Roots of USC Engineering

Printing dental products was not in the initial vision when Mansouri turned to 3D printing as a doctoral student at USC specializing in additive manufacturing. While the university program was more focused on research and future possibilities for 3D printing such as building housing on the moon, Mansouri said he felt the time was right to pursue more immediate opportunities for applications. technology business. He bonded with fellow USC student Jing Zhang and industrial designer Hossein Bassir, who was based in Malaysia. The three co-founded SprintRay in late 2014, and after an online Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $450,000, they were ready to launch the company.

The problem was they didn’t know what to focus on, Mansouri said. The technology was so new that many app ideas were floating around, but with little to show for it.
3D printers take scanned designs and settings and then print products using special resins. The possibilities for printing three-dimensional products are almost limitless.

“The question then was what were we going to print,” Mansouri said. “Customers from the jewelry industry have come and considered our 3D printers for custom jewelry. Engineers came and wanted to buy the machines for prototyping.

But then a large Newport Beach dental lab, Glidewell Laboratories, bought one of SprintRay’s printers. By this time in 2017, 3D printers had shrunk down to tabletop size and Glidewell was looking to replace a much larger earlier model from another company. After some adjustments to the printer, Mansouri said Glidewell increased its order to more than 40 of the printers.

“That’s when we at SprintRay sat down and decided to focus on the dental market,” Mansouri said.

But in another key decision, SprintRay chose to focus on dental practices, not dental labs. For starters, Mansouri said, there are far more dental offices than labs. Additionally, he said, selling to dental practices could allow those practices to bypass dental labs entirely and manufacture the dental products themselves. And at a cost of around $14,000 for the printer and accessories, it was an affordable investment for dentists.

Early Adopter

One of SprintRay’s first dental practice clients was Steven Shao, a dentist at Sunrise Dental Center in Huntington Beach. Shao had experimented with 3D printers on his own, outside of the dental office.

When Shao purchased one of SprintRay’s printers for the dental office in 2017, he decided to use it to print surgical guides and mock-ups that accurately replicate the surfaces of patients’ mouths and teeth, allowing him to practice placing implants. Until then, surgical guides and mock-ups had to be sent to laboratories.

Shao said the benefits of 3D printer technology go far beyond saving time and money by bypassing the lab.

“Early on, the use of 3D printing models helped convince patients to go ahead with procedures where they might not have otherwise or they might have decided to shop around. “, did he declare. “The mockups allowed patients to see exactly what the finished product would look like. This has given us a competitive edge over other dentists, and it has also translated into more treatment cases for us.

In fact, Shao said, he recouped his investment on the first-ever complex case, in which the 3D-printed model helped a patient decide to undergo an expensive dental surgery procedure.

“For me, that’s been the biggest benefit: bringing in more business,” Shao said.
As a result, the dental practice purchased three more printers. The biggest challenge, he said, was learning how to operate 3D printers so they produce dental products with precision.

One-stop shop

Indeed, this need for training is often cited as a reason most dentists and dental practices are reluctant to embrace 3D printing technology, according to Tim Schmitt, vice president of sales and marketing for Dental Product. Shopper, which is published by Manapan, Integrated Media Services Inc., based in New Jersey.

“The biggest challenge is educating dentists and doctors,” Schmitt said. “It’s such a new field that it will take some time to get into the mainstream.”
But if and when it hits the mainstream, he said it could be disruptive technology.

“The big game-changing moment will come when it becomes common practice to 3D print crowns and implants right in the dentist’s office,” Schmitt said.
He noted that so far, only a handful of companies nationwide have entered the dental 3D printing market. It will be a few years before the big companies get their 3D printing infrastructure in place and start offering real competition to companies like SprintRay, he added.

In the meantime, Mansouri said SprintRay has worked to improve training procedures for its dental practice customers.

“We’ve found that you can train dental office staff to handle most troubleshooting issues,” he said. “But we also have a team dedicated to troubleshooting: being able to remotely access the printer and see what was wrong.”

He added that SprintRay is also emphasizing the versatility of its 3D printing machines for dentists.
“If they need a night watchman, we’ll print it,” he said. “If they need an implant, we’ll print it. If they need a crown, we’ll print it. If they need a clear aligner, we’ll print it. Our goal is to become the one stop shop for 3D printed dental products.