Would you be tempted to 3D print your own Invisalign to save money, make yourself happier, and stick it to the dental appliance industry?
This was Amos Dudley’s concept when he decided to cast a mold of his teeth using cheap alginate powder, Permastone and a 3D printed impression tray.
The broke undergrad then 3D printed and vacuformed a series of alignment trays for much cheaper than it would have cost to get name-brand Invisalign.
He described his motivations for the project on a blog post:
“Scientific American says that by conciously smiling, we trigger a psychological feedback mechanism that causes us to be happy. I had an amazing realization last year – I wasn’t smiling, and it was because I was unhappy with my teeth. They weren’t awful, but they were crooked enough to make me self conscious. It’s very hard to smile when doing so makes you self concious about your teeth – every single time. By avoiding smiling, I was dampening my own potential for spontaneous happiness!”
Dudley points out, that although this may seem like a great idea for everyone, it only really works if you have ready access to certain things, such as a 3D printer and a knowledge of orthodontic movement. However, if you have these down, then Dudley makes it look easy to “stick it to the dental appliance industry”.
First, Dudley created an alginate mold and then put this upside down in a yogurt container which he then filled with liquid Permastone.
Then, he used the NextEngine laser scanner and created an animation – he separated the visible crowns of the teeth from the gumline, and then made a manifold model from each of the shells. Each frame of animation was turned into a new STL model.
He then 3D printed a total of six aligners using the university’s Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D printer. He also 3D printed a “riser” on his own 3D printer to hold up the individual liners during the plastic vacuum stage.
Dudley could then use a safe vacuum forming plastic and a vacuum former to create the aligners over the 3D printed models. Finally, he was able to cut the 3D print from the aligner and smoothed the edges with a Dremel and a sanding drum.
One word of warning, though: This is a process no one without a proper medical and maker background should do – never, ever. If you want to find out more, and read about the full process behind these home-made Invisalign, then check out Dudley’s blog post and let us know what you think in the comments.