A dental technology company has just opened its U.S. operations in Rouses Point, New York. The Quebec-based company uses 3D technology to create high-precision dentures and is the only company using the technique.
Four and a half years ago, the partners of a lab for dental products came up with the idea to use 3D technology in the dental field. After three years of research and development in Montreal, 3DRPD Vice President Eric Fortin said they attempted to expand into the U.S. market. “We tried just delivering those partials across the border. But with customs and with the short time of delivery that we have, it was very hard to go across. So, we decided to actually come here and have this business and this product done right in the U.S. And the demand is going very, very well.”
3DRPD — or Three Dimensional Removable Partial Dentures — is believed to be the only company using 3D printing to create partial dentures. Fortin explains that the process begins in the dentist’s office. “Dentists will have access to actually scan in mouth, directly. So no more impressions will be taken. They will send those files to their dental laboratories that will forward to us. Then we’ll make that partial.”
The partners were jovial as they showcased their new U.S. operations and cut a ceremonial red ribbon.
The product is already marketed and sold in Canada and France. President and CEO Denis Theriault explains that testing done jointly with McGill University showed dentures fit more precisely and comfortably when created by the computerized process. “What we’ve done when we started we sent two partials. The first one was done in the traditional way. The second one was done with CAD/CAM . We asked the patient to choose between the traditional and the new CAD/CAM. And ten of the ten chose the CAD/CAM. We asked every patient why they chose? The patient said we feel that they fit perfectly. So it was the first trial that we’ve done with Montreal university. It’s not an issue, we know that the partial’s fit.”
The dentures are metal, not plastic. Sebastian Carreau was showing people the machine creating the 3D dentures. It’s not like the vaccuforms we remember from our childhood, and viewing the process is a bit disappointing. It’s a laser-based process, seen through an amber colored port. “This is the machine. Right now it’s printing. We start with putting a layer on, then there’s a laser that comes in. Basically the program just took that partial that was in the computer and sliced it into very, very thin layers. 80 micron layers. So right now if you want to look inside the window you can see the laser working. (It’s sparkly!) What you see is the laser melting metal into very thin slices, one on top of each other until a full partial. There’s about 1,300 layers. In about 14 centimeters there’s about 1,300 layers.”
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Economic Development Susan Matton aided the company in its search for a U.S. site. Matton believes bringing the Canadian company here, just across the border, has ramifications beyond the North Country. “It’s a big deal for the United States to have these kinds of companies starting up now. This technology is new and it’s the wave of the future. It saves time. It saves money. It saves on costs for labor. And it brings jobs back to the United States that were overseas.”
3DRPD is the first company using 3D technology to operate in the North Country. It has an annual production capability of 2.5 million partial dentures.