Objective: Some modifications of orthodontic appliances such as the rapid maxillary expansion (RME) device with a Hyrax screw or Herbst are fabricated using traditional investment casting (lost-wax casting). This is precise but very labor-intensive. New technologies enable us today to use direct selective laser sintering (SLS) to produce freeform metallic structures. These machines are very expensive and only available in specialized laboratories. The aim of this investigation was to combine fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing with wax-based filaments to produce orthodontic appliances via investment casting.
Schlagwörter: 3D printing, computer modeling, fused filament fabrication, investment casting, orthodontic appliance design
Method and materials: For demonstration purposes, a lingual arch, a palatal arch, and an RME appliance were digitally designed based on an intraoral scan. The *.stl files were sliced and printed with a dual-nozzle FFF printer. The object was printed with a wax-based filament especially suited for investment casting, and support structures were printed with water-soluble polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) filament. The printed objects were cast in metal and finished.
Results: All appliances were successfully cast and polished. They were provisionally placed intraorally. The fit was clinically very good and comparable to traditionally crafted appliances. The printing and handling of the parts made of these special filaments is challenging.
Conclusion: With this experiment, the successful production of investment casting using FFF printing was shown for the first time.