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31 Mar 2023 | eLABORATE

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IDS 2023: Business is back to usual at the greatest dental show on earth

By Terry Whitty

This year's International Dental Show (IDS 2023) was back in full swing with the halls overflowing with exhibitors and plenty of hungry punters, all wanting to see the latest and greatest dentistry has on offer after the effective gap of 4 years during the COVID meltdown (there was a small IDS in 2021 but Australians were locked out). Although the numbers were slightly lower - 120,000 vs 160,000 in 2019 - the place was still abuzz and there was plenty to see for everyone. Anything and everything was on display and there were even more halls to see - so many in fact that I can honestly say it was a real effort to get around in the 5 days of the show.


If there was a theme for IDS 2023, it would definitely be Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. At every turn, there were posters and artwork touting AI and automation. Just about everyone in software is incorporating some sort of AI in some way. 3Shape use it in their Automate design service, Shining 3D in their intraoral scanning software, Adravision use it in x-ray software, etc, etc.

There were also numerous automation add-ons to existing equipment and lots of fancy expensive robot arms designed to replace manual intervention. imes-icore, for example, showed a system where thermoformed invisible aligners were taken up by a robotic arm and placed into one of their mills for cutting, then removed and the exercise continually repeated. And that's only one example.

As a lab owner in Australia, automation and AI options that help counter both the shortage of skilled labour and the increasing cost are of enormous interest.

3D printers - time savers and autonomous operation

As far as technology goes, without a doubt the most prolific of all the products on show at IDS 2023 was 3D printing, period. Not only was there a plethora of different brands of 3D printers, I was actually amazed at how many companies had "private labelled" well-known brands of printers just to make sure they had a 3D printer of their own on their stand. There were also more resin companies than you could poke a stick at, more peripherals such as washing units and curing units and just more 3D printing tech all 'round.

One highlight was at the ASIGA stand. ASIGA launched their new resin tank called UltraGloss that allows any material to be printed with a glossy finish. Simple as it may sound, this is quite an astonishing breakthrough as most resins come out of a printer with a slightly rough feel. Not with UltraGloss, however, you can really see the difference especially if you're printing things like splints and surgical guides. The time saving will be really significant when it comes to post finishing and as an ASIGA user myself, I can't wait to use these in my lab (they fit any ASIGA printer).

Shining 3D showed off their new fully automatic cutting, washing and drying all-in-one unit called FabWash and this is really a smart compact piece of equipment. After printing, the build platform is removed from the printer and placed into the FabWash. The printed parts will be automatically removed from the build platform, they will be washed and then dried without any intervention. This is really an innovative piece of equipment and saves a lot of time.

Speaking of automation, as mentioned earlier, its really the next big thing in dental 3D printing and there were glimpses of it at IDS. Formlabs displayed a new Automation Ecosystem consisting of some new hardware called Form Auto that basically retrofits to your Formlabs 3 or 3+ printer which can remove printed parts and then prep the machine ready for the next print. The new flexible Quick Release build platform assists with part removal and the new Fleet Control software helps you manage the whole thing.

Heygears showed off their new fully automatic UltraCraft A3D printer and this really is a step up as it is a dual projector DLP printer that has the part removal system fully built in, plus a resin filling system and automated software so you can run this printer non-stop 24/7! Of course you can also add a resin pump station to it for larger volumes and coming soon is a fully automated wash and cure system - it's really amazing.

Resins galore

Resin suppliers for 3D printing were also in abundance. There were so many companies selling resins it was hard to keep up. Notably, resins for printing dentures, both the bases and the teeth, were on the rise and everyone of course were touting theirs as the best, newest, strongest; well I think you get the idea anyway. Asiga, Dentca, Crowntec, Dreve, Asiga Myerson and many others all had new resins. From a practical point of view, regardless of the physical and optical properties of the cured resins, probably the most important factor is actually how it sits into the regulatory framework that oversees its use. In Australia, this lies with the TGA so a lot of resins are not yet registered in Australia. And the time and expense to register a resin for long term Class IIa in mouth use will mean a lot of them will never grace our shores.

The other big area where companies are investing a lot of money towards is resins for permanent chairside restorations. Now don't get too excited yet; in reality, these don't replace ceramics, well not yet anyway, perhaps in many years to come. They are actually positioned as a "patient option" alongside ceramics and case selection is as important as restoration design.

For example, it's unlikely you're going to make a posterior bridge for a bruxer when most of these material only have flexural strength of sub 150 Mpa and to put that into perspective, e.max is around 400 Mpa. Materials are getting better all the time but at the moment, most are monolithic only as is to be expected as you can only print one shade at a time.

However, DWS had a very interesting system called Photoshade Adaptive Gradient Technology which gives the restoration the appearance of having multiple areas of the shade at differing levels. This is done with some clever resin changing technology as it will print lighter areas, then change or mix the resin and continue to the darker areas.

Another really interesting material was from Korea that has some unique properties allowing it to change colour depending on how it is cured. The wavelength of the cure will determine what shade you will end up with. You could theoretically block out areas of a crown and cure them at one wavelength and other areas at a different wavelength to create a polychromatic restoration, really interesting stuff!

Milling and more

Apart from 3D printing, tech wise, the well-established market of desktop milling continued to evolve. There were an abundance of powerhouse milling machine companies like Zirkonzahn, Amann Girrbach, DGSHAPE, imes-icore and VHF - in fact, all the well-known brands - but of note were the many new Asian manufacturers starting to make a noise. Aidite, Upcera, UP3D and Aurum - just to mention a few - are all offering lots of features at prices that really show great value. Some are even promising metal milling, a big ask from a desktop machine. These brands are rising quickly in quality, however, as with anything new, you must check out the track record first before diving in, but definitely keep an eye on them.

DGSHAPE from Japan showed it's new DWX-53DC mill, a large robust unit that is a "do all" dry mill that's been beefed up for high speed acrylic work, ideally suited to denture production. A newly designed spindle, a new 4mm high cutting speed tool and a brand new compartmentalised design really make this one worth a look.

All the CAM softwares associated with all the milling machines have had upgrades with AI and features like automated nesting and tool path generation are really the standard along with complex shapes such as full arch work is now much easier to process.

Face scanning

Face scanning is now starting to really grow legs with two brands of note really standing out. Ray's RayFace and Shining 3D's MetiSmile offer the ability to capture a 3D extraoral scan of a patient patients face/head in full colour. This really starts to open up the "virtual patient" concept where treatment planning, diagnosis, treatment planning and communication can all be done prior to treatment starting. Merge a face scan with an intraoral scan and a CBCT and you really have some powerful records to manipulate and measure. Face scans can be imported into popular CAD software such as exocad and 3Shape so expect to see much more of this in the very near future.

With 1788 exhibitors from 60 countries at IDS, there was so much more than just technology to see. The tools of the trade for every genre of dentistry were on display – if it's used in a dental surgery or dental laboratory or for at-home oral care, there were myriad options on display across the 180,000 square metres of exhibition space.

Undeniably, however, the "age of the machines" is here and has permeated everywhere in dentistry and dental technology and it's only going to get better, faster and cheaper... and far more automated. The benefits are real and the learning curve can be steep, but the journey is fun and very rewarding. And, if you're not involved, you will simply be left behind.

The next IDS - the 41st International Dental Show - is scheduled to take place from 25 to 29 March 2025.


For a preview of some of the latest from IDS 2023, don't forget to register for Digital Dentistry and Dental Technology 2023 in Sydney from June 2-3. Register at www.dentaltechnology.com.au.

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