3-D Printing Expected to Replace Milling by 2027

Dentistry Today


The dental 3-D printing market’s strong performance in 2017 was the result of widespread increases in acceptance and integration, according to SmarTech Publishing. In fact, the market analyst company reports, the total dental printing industry grew year-over-year by more than 35% for the second year in a row in 2017.

Looking ahead, SmarTech Publishing expects the dental 3-D printing market to total $9.5 billion by 2027. The company also expects 3-D printing technologies to become the leading production source for dental restorations and devices worldwide by 2027, overtaking subtractive milling and traditional analog fabrication processes. 

Additive manufacturing and 3-D printing technologies continue to benefit from the global movement toward digital processes. Moving into 2018, SmarTech Publishing expects the profession will reach a global tipping point, with printing poised to benefit the most over the next 10 years compared to available digital dentistry solutions like subtractive milling.     

Milling technologies still hold a majority share on the production volumes for permanent aesthetic dental restorations made in materials such as ceramics or dental composites, the company reports. Yet 3-D printing is outpacing milling growth due to its abilities in areas that provide a high degree of value-add for laboratories, dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons.

In fact, SmarTech Publishing predicts dental printing technologies that use both metal-based and resin-based printing processes will revolutionize dentistry through their ability to produce today’s wide range of high-value dental devices and in the production of the full spectrum of accepted permanent dental restorations and prosthetics.

Today’s laboratories use both additive and subtractive systems in their digital workflows. Current subtractive CAD/CAM systems are highly aligned with the fabrication of restorations for aesthetic dentistry using dental ceramics.

While there is a well-rounded and inclusive market opportunity for the coexistence of both subtractive and additive systems, though, SmarTech Publishing believes that resin-based 3-D printing technologies’ ability to serve true permanent restorations is a realistic possibility and a severe threat to milling technologies in the medium to long term.

The company notes several major innovations that are propelling additive technologies to a dominant position in dentistry, such as increased access to desktop photopolymerization systems combined with certified dental printing resins that cost less than $5,000. Formlabs, which mainstreamed this solution, has increased its share of the dental photopolymerization market by more than a factor of 20 over the past two years.

Also, SmarTech Publishing expects metal additive manufacturing to play a key role in dental printing thanks to the increasing ability of companies to develop direct-metal dental implant solutions and to the global growth of implant dentistry over the last several years. By 2024, SmarTech says, outsourced additive manufacturing of metal dental implant systems will exceed $1 billion in opportunity.

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