3D PRINTING IN PROSTHODONTICS Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology was first demonstrated in 1986. Additive manufacturing,
rapid prototyping and solid freeform technology are synonymous to 3D printing. The primary step in
3D printing is to obtain anatomical scans using imaging techniques such as Magnetic Resonance
Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT). The image from these modalities are then saved in
a standard format such as Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) and later with
the help of computer-aided design (CAD) software, virtual 3D prototype with Standard Tessellation
Language (STL) can be created. Final step is 3D printing and deposition of the material layer by layer
to achieve the final structure. Various printing techniques used are fused deposition modelling (FDM),
stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), inkjet bioprinting, extrusion bioprinting and laserassisted bioprinting. The created virtual 3D prototype can be printed using the appropriate technique
and the printed object is subjected to post-printing modifications to obtain the final product. 3D printing
has made the process of fabricating a prosthetic nose or any other body part as easy as pressing the
print button. Polyjetmultimaterial printing technology in the production of maxillofacial prosthesis allows
for not only exemplary digital reproduction, but can actualize complex color combinations, simulating
skin pigmentation, besides adjustable mechanical properties, to obtain the tactile feel of human tissue.
Additive manufacturing techniques are found to be used for scaffold production in tissue engineering
also. Application of 3D printing in the field of maxillofacial reconstructive surgeries are obtaining
highly precise anatomic prototype models to aid in preoperative planning and improve postoperative
facial symmetry, virtual planning and printing of pre-contoured grafts and plates to revamp surgical
outcomes and reduce operating time, provide high-accuracy and life like prostheses that can enhance
the aesthetics and psychological status of patients and also for surgical planning and training.
Dr.Adhershitha AR, Assistant Professor, Department of Prosthodontics, Government Dental College, Kottayam.