Word has it that 3D printers will be the buzz at Chicago Lab Day this year, especially with so many new 3D printers hitting the market. The energy alone at Lab Day can be overwhelming, and trying to pinpoint the “exact” printer that will best suit your needs in this setting can be difficult. Do you listen to the sales rep that has a quota to hit, or do you listen to your peers? Perhaps you take their opinions into consideration, but do not base your purchase solely on the opinions of others.
If investing in 3D printing technology for your lab is a top priority in Chicago, I strongly encourage you to do your homework BEFORE you get on the plane, as there are many things to consider before purchasing a 3D printer for your dental lab.
If you are looking for a foolproof plan for finding the right printer for your lab, the first thing you want to do is get test prints. If you are wanting to 3D print models, you will want to send the same file of a raw intraoral scan to every printer manufacturer you are considering. If you have the software to model build the file, you will want to skip this option, unless you have the printer manufacturer send you their settings for your system ahead of time. Otherwise the dies will likely not fit the model properly.
By sending the same file to each printer manufacturer, you are able to get an apples to apples comparison on the quality and accuracy of each 3D printer. In addition, here is a list of what I consider to be the top 7 questions that you should ask regarding your test print:
- What is the pixel accuracy of the 3D printer?
- What micron layer thickness will my model be printed at?
- How long did it take to print my model?
- Is this an open materials printer?
- How much are your resins that you offer?
- What consumables will I need to purchase to use this printer?
- Are there any support fees or annual renewals on the software?
Last, but not least, I encourage you to ask for an online demo of the software. Make sure it is user-friendly and learn what you can about it before you buy.
If you follow this plan, you will successfully avoid making an impulse buy that you may perhaps regret later.