Terms are interesting in dentistry. Do you remember all of these? PFM, PBM, FGC, FVC, PJC, PVC.

In many cases, the term you used just depended upon where you went to school or where you trained. Some things just had their own names, “cause that’s what the old guy said they were”.

Let’s get off to a good start with some names in 3D printing and their descriptors so we can make better choices and understand more about the subject.

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LASER GALVO – The original form of Stereolithography. Seldom used now.

SLA – Stereolithography or Photo Polymerization Resin Printing. Uses a light source, generally a laser,  to solidify the resin.

FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling or Extrusion Printing. Uses a heat source to soften material and then places it in position.

DMP – Direct Metal Printing uses a vat of powdered metal and a laser to fuse the particles together

DLPDigital Light Processing. This uses a projector light to fuse photo-polymerizing resin in layers

MEMJET – Uses an inkjet head to print resins (3D Systems Type)

POLYJET – Uses Ink Jet Heads, similar to Memjet (Stratasys Type)

GRANULAR – Gypsum combined with a cyanoacrylate fortifier. Old system not used much in dentistry.

Now, let us look at some terms that are very important when it comes to time, size and accuracy;

BUILD PLATE – This is the surface upon which the layers of material are deposited. The larger the build plate (length by width) the more objects you can place.

XYZ AXIS – Mathematical directions in space, Front/Back, Left/ Right, Up/Down. The length of the ‘Z’ axis lets you know how high the build can be. This is the measurement that lets you “STACK” the printed objects or place them long axis up.

DPI – Dots Per Inch. The higher the number, the clearer the image

‘Z’ LAYER THICKNESS – Measurement of the thickness of each deposited layer. Measured in Microns somewhere from 1-100 generally. The thicker the deposit, the faster the print time but the less accurate the print job.

‘X and Y’ RESOLUTION – measured as a distance. Very similar to pixels in television. The smaller the X/Y Resolution (the smaller the pixels) the more accurate the printed piece.

NANOMETER – A measurement of light noted as nm. Generally printers are either 405nm or 385nm.

OPEN SOURCE – Simply means that you can use whichever resin material you would like. However, it must match the nanometers of the light source in the printer.

 With this information at hand and an assessment of your needs, you should be able to come to a good decision between the many print systems currently on the market.


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