Before you pull the trigger on incorporating a 3D printer into your digital workflow, there are several things that you need to research outside of just the printer. It is very important that you consider what you want to print. Models? Splints? Custom Trays? Temporaries? Dentures? Final crowns? From there you will need to look at your options for resins and determine which curing light you will need to use.
When choosing a closed printer, determining the resins is simple, as you are limited to using only the resins the printer company offers. When choosing an open materials printer, the list of resins you can use is extensive, so you will have plenty of options, not including resins for Class 2 medical devices (anything in the mouth for more than 30 days). When 3D printing anything Class 2, you will need to take a look at the FDA-approved resin of your choice and make sure that your printer is on their FDA 510k.
While most printers will come with a curing light, the light is usually used to cure anything that does not go in the mouth. When printing Class 2 medical devices, you will need to take a look at the 510k of the FDA-approved resin to see which curing lights have been tested and validated for that resin. In addition, you will also need to make sure that you are following the instructions for use because each of the curing lights validated for Class 2 resins use different wavelengths and have varying light intensities.
Some of the more popular curing lights in the dental market include the Otoflash, Uvitron Sunray 400, Uvitron Intelliray 600, and the Curebox Plus. These lights are used to cure Class 1 and 2 resins as well as other resins that do not go in the mouth.
Here is an example of different curing times for a guide, splint and denture resin:
Click here for a post-processing curing unit selection guide.
Here is a more expansive chart showing different curing times with four popular curing lights for various resins:
Click here for Whip Mix 3D Print Resins/ Post Curing Units Qualification.
At the end of the day, if you are not printing Class 2 medical devices, choosing a curing light is easy. You will want to be FDA compliant, using approved equipment for those resins while following the proper instructions-for-use to avoid the risk of being fined if you are audited. The caveat to this is that only Dental Laboratories have to follow this rule. Dentists are not held to the same standards and can technically go “outside of the box” as a prescribing doctor. With that being said, it is still best to follow the proper curing protocol so that you are not compromising the properties of the resin or the patient.