Development of UnionTech Dental 3D Printing Technology under Full Digitalization Trend
Full digitalization is the development tendency of international dental processing industry, and the rapid development of digitization technology and its application in clinical dental as well as 3-dimensional imageology and optical scanning technology bring more ways for getting clinical data in dental, and thus 3D printing has become one of the hotspots in stomatological application. As one special manufacturing technology with notable digitalization, 3D printing has become one of the digital processing links of the dental. Besides, by integrating stomatological diagnosis, design and production process via data flow, the full digitalization process for dentistry product processing has been formed. Technology has been and is rapidly changing the traditional diagnosis and treatment mode in dental, e.g. fixed prosthesis CAD/CAM technology in dental (one-hour toothing), digital Smile Design (DSD), implant surgery guided by implant guide plate, digital surgery planning in oral and maxillofacial surgery, have changed the traditional diagnosis and treatment in dental and will improve all aspects in the dental – medical quality and efficiency, clinical diagnosis and treatment of doctors, working mode of technicians and nursers, feeling of the sick, and clinic information management.
UnionTech has been engaged in the applications in all fields for 20 years, and it started to apply 3D printing in medical application a dozen years ago, so it is one of the first enterprises to apply 3D printing technology in the medical field. After the outbreak of the 2018 Wenchuan earthquake, UnionTech fulfilled its social responsibility as a Chinese private enterprise, and organized the “RP for Wenchuan Earthquake Donation” project, jointly with West China University of Medical Sciences and Materialise, to carry out adjuvant therapy for persons who were injured in the earthquake via SLA3D printing technology. In 2018, UnionTech began to enter the medical industry, and agreed on the cooperation intention with Angelalign to enter the orthodontics clinic market. Orthodontics means production of invisible transparent tooth sockets. Compared with traditional steel wire dental brace, transparent tooth sockets are more beautiful and comfort. By virtue of its strong technology and solutions in Orthodontics, UnionTech has opened the application market of domestic orthodontics clinic, and has been recognized by famous orthodontics clinic brands, including Angelalign and Smartee.
Orthodontics is one typical digital application in dental, and the production process of invisible tooth sockets mainly include “impression – scanning - 3D modeling - digital straightening - dental cast by 3D printing - thermoforming of dental braces - posttreatment”. During the whole process, 3D printing is mainly applied to mass customization of dental models in different straightening phases. After one dental model is fabricated, the clear film is wrapped on the model with thermoforming technology, and thus the invisible tooth socket that is suitable for the patient is fabricated. "By the analysis on dental data of an patient, the professional personnel of UnionTech Medical Department will arrange the teeth based on the software, e.g. moving each tooth for 0.2-0.3mm or distort it for 15 degrees every time, thus obtaining the dental model data in different straightening phases, which could be printed by batches through union 3d printing technology,” said by YAO Junfeng, General Manager of Smartee. Generally, one patient needs about 20 tooth sockets, so as to achieve the straightening effect based on the continuing levity on teeth. 20 invisible tooth sockets means that 20 straightening models need to be printed. Without 3D printing technology, no accurate straightening model could be fabricated. So to speak, the invisible tooth socket is one industry that appears because of 3D printing. YAO Junfeng, General Manager of Smartee considers that, with the improvement of social living standards, the Orthodontics quantity demanded is growing rapidly. After years of development, this trend is verified in Smartee: so far, Smartee owns about 100 UnionTech 3D printing devices that are used for fabrication of dental cast for Orthodontics.
With the development of Chinese dental, and improvement of people's living standards, educational level and consumption level, people need better medical technology and service, which requires more and more high-quality oral cavity medical apparatuses and materials. According to the national odontopathy survey, over 90% Chinese people suffer from odontopathy; therein, about 50% Chinese adults suffer from periodontal diseases, 37% Chinese adults have saprodontia, and every person has 2.47 saprodontias on average. In this case, in terms of the population of 1.4 billion, 0.5 billion Chinese people have saprodontia, and the total quantity of saprodontia is over 1 billion. Therefore, the market prospect for Chinese dental products is broad.
Bybo Dental, the largest private stomatological chain hospital in China, acquired over 200 dental clinics in only two years. Teenagers and white-collar workers prefer invisible tooth sockets, which are more beautiful, comfort and convenient compared with traditional orthodontics methods. Meanwhile, since invisible tooth sockets require lower clinic skills and lower maintenance costs, they are also recognized by dentists. At the meantime, from the perspective of Invisalign’s global sales volume, as well as sales volume of Smartee and other domestic brands, the business volume of invisible tooth sockets has increased by 100% in recent years. With the improvement of national living standards, we predict that there will be explosive growth in the invisible straightening market. In terms of the business volume of our two representative customers, Angelalign and Smartee, they kept 30~50% annual growth rate in recent years, i.e. the geometric growth. Among the 1.4 billion population of China, over 30% of which need invisible straightening; with China's economic development and improvement in medical consumption, more and more customers will recognize and accept invisible orthodontics, for people will make every effort to pursue beauty.
Based on overall layout, make strong presence in the application in the industry with DLP technology
Besides invisible straightening of orthodontics, UnionTech has been manufacturing more and more dental crown, dental bridge and denture by 3D printing technology in the dentistry field in recent years. In 2017, UnionTech established the Application Business Division, and invested over RMB 10 million in hardware, software and materials, and has made good efforts. It has developed EvoDent series digital 3D printers specially for dentistry, the EvoDent series products that adopt DLP technology to support the strong presence in the application in the stomatological field from R&D, production, sales and service based on technology. At present, almost factories or dental clinics adopt DLP technology to print the oral implantology models, rehabilitation models and implant guide plates for implant surgery.
The printing of rehabilitation model, implant models and implant guide plates is the most important link in the whole oral rehabilitation. The traditional hand-made fabrication is featured by long manufacturing cycle, tedious procedures and low accuracy, while the digital 3D printing significantly simplify the traditional procedures, especially digital implant guide plate, which could achieve truly precision implant and precision medicine via oral scanning, design and 3D printing, thus shortening the waiting time, improving the comfort level of patients, lowering surgical risks, and bringing comfort, convenient and safe experience for patients.
Apart from the fact that its own characteristic is suitable for personalized plans in the dental field, why UnionTech’s 3D printing technology develops rapidly and is more widely applied in the dental field than ten years ago? The reasons are listed as follows:
Firstly, affected by the political and economic environment, the demand is increasing rapidly during the transitional period from technology development to market application and after the implementation of the application. Secondly, the reliability of brands, products and technologies of UnionTech, including the hardware and market service abilities, is rapidly recognized by the whole industry and the customers.
Thirdly, the targeted R&D and definition of UnionTech’s products and technology are carried out based on the market and user needs, and each product/technology will not go into batch operation in the market until internal test, improvement and optimization, test and confirmation by customers. In one word, the technology and product performance of UnionTech are the robust assurance.
During the 20 years of development of UnionTech, its layout in the stomatological field includes orthodontics, oral rehabilitation and oral implantology, and such in-depth applications have been integrated into the whole market. UnionTech’s market share in the invisible orthodontics of SLA technology is more than 30%, while that of DLP technology is almost 20%. At present, 3D printing in the dental market is increasing quickly, and the development prospect of domestic dental market is good. The person in charge of UnionTech Stomatological Business Division says, “We pay high attention to this application. In the future, we hope to win almost 50% of the market share of DLP technology.”
With the market development and UnionTech’s layout, the future is expectable
The most significant end in digital processes of the stomatological field is to obtain case data and to restore the case models via 3D printing technology, which is one of the essential links in the whole digital processes of the stomatological field. According to reports, the prospective market value of 3D printing is about RMB 600 million. Mr. Qu, Director of the Stomatological Application Business Division says, “At present, there are over 100,000 dental clinics in China, and based on the usage rate of 3D printer of 50%, 50,000 – 60,000 3D printers are required; secondly, there are about 3,000 denture factories in China, and based on the quantity of 5~10 3D printers for each factory, 10,000-20,000 3D printers are required. Therefore, it’s estimated that there are 70,000 – 80,000 3D printers in total in the domestic market, i.e. the capacity of the market is large. In the future, with the development of material science, the market will grow accordingly, for the development of material science is the key for the development in applications in the stomatological field.”
UnionTech considers that it must make strong presence in applications in the industry so as to achieve more results, i.e. to further expand the application in orthodontics, oral rehabilitation, oral implantology and etc. For example, new-type complete denture printed by 3D printing (generally, denture for the senior citizens), one key development direction in the future, which adopts the perpetual rehabilitation dental crown, folding or inlay clinically. The most important point in the application is new materials. Synthetic, one wholly-owned subsidiary of UnionTech for R&D of materials, has made a breakthrough in material technology. In terms of particularity of products in different application fields, Synthetic has developed the materials that conform to industrial characteristics in the fields including industry, footwear industry and dentistry. Its applied materials that have been recognized by the market. The performance of materials applied to the stomatological field that are independently developed by Synthetic is comparable to that of foreign companies. The price of domestic materials with the same performance which is 1/3-1/4 lower than that of foreign companies, thus greatly satisfying the domestic market requirements and facilitating the development of the whole industry.
In terms of team building, UnionTech will invest more human resources to widen its sales network and service network externally, and invest more capitals in technology and R&D to improve its product quality, to manufacture more intelligent, more efficient and more stable equipment, so as to improve customer experience; in this way, UnionTech will win more market share in the whole stomatological field. This is the major layout direction of UnionTech in the application in the stomatological field. The key is to boost the depth and breadth of applications, thus achieving better customer experience.
In recent years, government departments at all levels in China have released a series of policies to support the development of 3D printing industry, and a relatively stable policy support system for additive material manufacturing has been formed so far. Thanks to policy support, more and more commercial value of 3D printing has been achieved, and the layout of medical service providers in 3D printing industry has become increasingly fast. As the leader 3D printing industry, UnionTech will keep its professionalism in sla 3d printing, and hopes to make open communication with all industries to seek development jointly, and to further facilitate the in-depth application and development of 3D printing in the medical industry.
With constant efforts, the Seminar on Digital Application in Dental is approaching
On October 27, the Seminar on Digital Application in Dental with the theme of “Appreciating the 20th Anniversary, Digital Dental Wins the Future”, sponsored by UnionTech, will be held in a luxury liner beside Huangpu River. Then 50 application-side enterprises invited by UnionTech will jointly discuss on the application of 3D digital technology in dental.
This Seminar will facilitate the industry development combining high-end intelligent manufacturing technologies (e.g. Additive Manufacturing), with insightful views, highlighted focus and in-depth analysis. It will fully show the opportunities and challenges occurring during the combination of 3D printing technology and digital processes of the dentistry, as well as the value that 3D printing technology creates from the dentistry.
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