IN FOCUS: Getting to the root of the problem.

Above: ‘Crowning glory’: Webcam shots (1-12) showing stages in the process of 3D printing a giant human molar (left) and the resultant 3D print with support scaffold removed (central and right).

The other day we were presented with a problem: was it possible to generate a 3D model of a human tooth that could be used for dental teaching and outreach purposes? The only thing was, the individual concerned didn’t specify the desired size. With a build volume of 215 x 215 x 300mm and printing resolution of 20-200 microns, our new Ultimaker 3 Extended 3D printer can print BIG, so what better application to put the new instrument through its paces! After a quick search on Thingiverse.com, we downloaded a stereolithography (.stl) file of a human molar tooth segmented from computed tomography (thanks to fvillena). We decided to print it as big as we could, but using the lowest print resolution and lowest level of infill. The results, shown above, are quite impressive – it took approximately 24 hours to print the tooth (crown-side down, root-side up) and with the support scaffold removed resulted in a 3D model approximately 300mm in height – about the same size as tooth from an adult T-Rex!! I suppose we can now be accused of (wait for it…) getting a bit long in the tooth!

AJH

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