Digital technology in the orthodontic laboratoryAmerican Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


Arlen J. Hurt


Accurate grinding of the profiles of small form cutters

The Taylor-Hobson Research Laboratory

Prevention of backlash in gearing

The Taylor-Hobson Research Laboratory

Remote laboratory for digital systems

Jan Baca, Milan Haulis, Stanislav Suba

The Evolution of a Digital Subsystem Laboratory

Frederic J. Mowle


Digital technology in the

Arlen J. Hurt

Cumming, Ga odon ufac o exp man tion info settings for laser welders. Technicians can adjust the setthe ing nibraze alloy can leach into undesired areas. The laser precision that they cannot be made by brazing. Laser welders have not only broadened the product line, but the Objet 260V 3-D printer, and the 3-Shape 3-D scanner. Part of his salary comes from proceeds offered in these services. 0889-5406/$36.00

Copyright  2012 by the American Association of Orthodontists.

TECHNO BYTESwelder eliminates this concern entirely. With the laser welder, a technician can create appliance designs that use temporary anchorage systems requiring such great

Reprint requests to: Arlen J. Hurt, Specialty Appliances, 4905 Hammond

Industrial Dr, Ste J, Cumming, GA 30041.

Submitted, May 2011; revised and accepted, June they progress. cian to consistently produce strong joints.

The laser welder is a remarkable tool that allows the creation of more designs than can be accomplished with brazing. Another drawback of brazing is that the

Vice president, Specialty Appliances.

The author has purchased the DL 2000 Laserwelder, the Laser Star Laserwelder,doi:10mented and relayed to the technicians in a timely ner. Using photos along with PowerPoint applicas (Microsoft, Redmond, Wash) helps keep employees rmed of any special instructions and design changes rience. For example, the power setting can be reduced a technician whose hand moves slower through welding zone, without damaging the parts or reduc the strength of the metals. Laser systems enable a techtered the production area. Processes could be docu tings somewhat to allow for their own ability and expeforFour relatively new technologies are now key in orth welding, computer-aided design/computer-aided man article are to briefly describe these technologies and t (Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2012;141:245-7)

Digital technology has changed orthodontic labo-ratory operations immensely over the last 15years.1 The process has been slower in orthodontics than in other fields because of the relatively small market size of the orthodontic laboratory, with most transitions pioneered by the dental laboratories. Although technicians at some orthodontic laboratories might feel threatened by the pace of change, we are all learning that the new products and techniques improve productivity and can be great tools to express creativity.

Four relatively new technologies are now key in orthodontic specialty laboratories: digital photography, laser welding, computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), and intraoral scanners.

The purposes of this article are to briefly describe these technologies and to explain how they can be used in the orthodontic lab.

Although they are part of our daily lives now, digital cameras made a huge impact on dentistry in 1995.2

Communication between the doctor’s office and the laboratory changed dramatically. Patient photos could be e-mailed back and forth to illustrate issues with models and discuss various appliance designs. Training documents could be created even before the appliance en-.1016/j.ajodo.2011.06.045orthodontic laboratory tic specialty laboratories: digital photography, laser turing, and intraoral scanners. The purposes of this lain how they are used in the orthodontic laboratory.

In 2002, the laser welder was introduced to the orthodontic laboratory.3 Although laser welding has been available for over 30 years, it was not until the mid1990s that dental laboratories began using it for appliances. The laser welder (Fig 1) uses a highly concentrated light to fuse metals. The weld is controlled by the duration that the light is applied, the amount of power supplied, and the diameter of the laser beam. Because the metals are fused, the resulting bond is better than that produced by brazing, in which the metals are wrapped together with a third alloy. With brazing, many factors contribute to the success of a bond; the most critical is the technician’s technique. A brazed joint must be clean and the proper amount offlux applied; any shortcomings and the appliance will most likely fail during treatment.

With the forces that orthodontic appliances must endure, everything possible must be done to ensure that the metals are joined properly. Laser welding is ideal because the technician has only to select the task to be completed, and the preset control panel takes care of the rest. A focal point on the laser welder helps keep the technician from misfiring; the welder will not fire when parts are out of focus. Manufacturers give basic guidelines on the proper245 able after some time on the market. Shortly after the

American Association of Orthodontists’ meeting in 2008, the 3-Shape 3-D scanner became available to orthodontic laboratories at a reasonable cost. This scanner allows the capture and manipulation of the data in many ways: the models or impressions can be scanned, band or crown sizes can be determined, interproximal reduction can be reviewed if needed, a Bolton analysis can be accomplished, and any model that has been duplicated 246 Hurtalso made possible the premanufacturing of parts for some appliances. This has created a stronger, more consistent, and lower-profile appliance. Laser welding can be used in essentially all departments in the laboratory.

In the early 1990s, CAD/CAM techniques began impacting dentistry.4 Systemsbecameavailable to create restorations digitally, making for many positive changes in laboratory operations. The dental technician could design copings, frameworks, or entire restorations ona computer; then the restoration was milled or printed for a casting process. Fast-forward 10 years, and we have several companies using this same technology in orthodontics.

The first products to impact the orthodontic market were digital study models and aligners.5 Companies began promoting digital dental casts as a viable alternative to the plaster study model service provided by laboratories. Most laboratories make study models out of necessity and not as a main source of income. The plaster study model service was time-consuming, took up much needed space in the laboratory, and created storage issues for orthodontists. Digital study models solve these problems. The models or impressions can be scanned, and the plaster models discarded.