DSM Helping Dutch Sports Initiative 3D Print Custom Sports Mouthguards On the Spot

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3Dmouthguard progression, 2016. [Image: 3Dmouthguard via Facebook]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that over 600,000 visits to the emergency room each year in the US are due to sports-related dental injuries, which just makes me cringe…the only potential I ever had for a (semi)sports-related dental injury was if I marched into someone on the field during band and accidentally jammed my flute into my mouth. More than one-quarter of all total dental injuries are sports-related, with basketball, boxing, hockey, and martial arts representing some of the highest-risk activities.

But luckily, as we’ve seen time and again, many serious sports injuries can potentially be prevented by using 3D printing to fabricate protective equipment, such as mouthguards.

Global science-based company Royal DSM, which is headquartered in the Netherlands and is active in health, materials, and nutrition, takes 3D printing pretty seriously. The company has now announced a new partnership with Dutch sports initiative 3Dmouthguard, located in Eindhoven, with a technical launch yesterday.

3Dmouthguard believes that athletes can better focus on their performance if they have access to custom, sustainable protective gear, which is why it digitizes and automates the full process of making custom mouthguards, in cooperation with its partners Carestream Dental, DentalairNHL Stenden Hogeschool, and now DSM and Mass Portal.

“We believe that in a few years from now, 3D printed mouthguard machines will be a must have in every sports facility around the world,” said Arno Hermans, CEO of 3Dmouthguard. “For us the technology is also a start of a whole field of new applications. It enables us to learn, develop and explore new products like shinguards, helmets, and elbow protection, and it can benefit markets beyond sports such as healthcare.”

By digitizing part of its production process, 3Dmouthguard, which combines both comfort and safety in its 3D printed mouthguards, can achieve better access, accuracy, delivery, and personalization.

In this new partnership, DSM and 3Dmouthguard will work together to develop custom-made, instantly 3D printed mouthguards that will protect against mouth and teeth injuries in all types of sports that involve sticks, balls, bats, or person-to-person contact.

“We are pleased that our materials and AM/3D knowledge can help to transform the mouthguard market by making the production of high quality mouth protectors fast and easy, helping prevent oral injuries,” said Hugo Ferreira da Silva, Vice President at DSM Additive Manufacturing. “Providing the right material and the right platform for specific applications is key to accelerating the adoption of 3D printing into real manufacturing. Collaboration in the industry will allow more applications to benefit from the great advantages of additive manufacturing, at an affordable cost.”

DSM and 3Dmouthguard are working with the sports initiative’s existing partners, Carestream and NHL Stenden Hogeschool, and as a result have created a new technology that allows them to 3D print custom-made mouthguards on demand and on the spot.

First, the athlete’s upper jaw is scanned, digitally capturing all of the shapes and curves of their mouth and teeth. Then, using FFF technology and Ultimaker and Mass Portal 3D printers, a custom-fitted mouthguard can be 3D printed on the spot for the athlete.

DSM’s bio-based and highly flexible TPC (ThermoPlastic Co-polymer) material Arnitel is used to fabricate the 3D printed mouthguards. The material meets all of the necessary flexibility, health, and strength requirements, and when compared to TPU, has very good UV and chemical resistance.

Combined with the material characteristics of 3D printable Arnitel, the new 3D printing technique the partnership developed has totally automated and digitized the production process for custom, instant, 3D printed mouthguards.

The first 3D printed mouthguards produced through this partnership will soon be tested by athletes who belong to Dutch field hockey clubs. Then, partnering developers and scientists will use the data that’s captured from the field hockey players to improve and scale up the 3D printing process for the mouthguards through the combined expertise of 3Dmouthguard, DSM, Carestream, and NHL Stenden Hogeschool.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images provided by DSM]

Researchers 3D Print Acoustic Metamaterials That Can Block Sound Waves and Vibrations

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Metamaterials, which can morph according to their environment, make up a new class of 3D printable, engineered surfaces which can perform nature-defying tasks, like making holograms and shaping sound. Recently, a collaborative team led by researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering created new 3D printed acoustic metamaterials that are able to be remotely switched on and off, using a magnetic field, between active control and passive states.

This makes it possible to control vibration and sound, which other researchers have been trying unsuccessfully to do with abnormal property-exhibiting structures. The difference is that those metamaterials are built in fixed geometries, so their abilities will also remain fixed.

“When you fabricate a structure, the geometry cannot be changed, which means the property is fixed,” explained Qiming Wang, USC Viterbi Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The idea here is, we can design something very flexible so that you can change it using external controls.”

Close up of the team’s metamaterial. [Image: Qiming Wang]

Wang, together with USC Viterbi PhD student Kun-Hao Yu, University of Missouri Professor Guoliang Huang, and MIT Professor Nicholas X. Fang, whose work with 3D metamaterials we’re familiar with, have developed 3D printed metamaterials that can block both mechanical vibrations and sound waves. This opens up applications in vibration control, noise cancellation, and sonic cloaking (used to hide objects from acoustic waves), because, unlike current metamaterials, these can be controlled remotely with a magnetic field.

Yu said, “Traditional engineering materials may only shield from acoustics and vibrations, but few of them can switch between on and off.”

Yu, Fang, Huang, and Wang, whose research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program, recently published a paper, titled “Magnetoactive Acoustic Metamaterials,” in the Advanced Materials journal.

The abstract reads, “In conventional acoustic metamaterials, the negative constitutive parameters are engineered via tailored structures with fixed geometries; therefore, the relationships between constitutive parameters and acoustic frequencies are typically fixed to form a 2D phase space once the structures are fabricated. Here, by means of a model system of magnetoactive lattice structures, stimuli‐responsive acoustic metamaterials are demonstrated to be able to extend the 2D phase space to 3D through rapidly and repeatedly switching signs of constitutive parameters with remote magnetic fields. It is shown for the first time that effective modulus can be reversibly switched between positive and negative within controlled frequency regimes through lattice buckling modulated by theoretically predicted magnetic fields.”

Metamaterials can manipulate wave phenomena, like light, radar, and sound, which helps create technology like cloaking devices. Environmental sounds and structural vibrations, which have similar waveforms, can now be controlled by the team’s unique metamaterials. These can be compressed, but not constrained, with a magnetic field by 3D printing a deformable material, which contains iron particles, in a lattice structure. So, when a mechanical or acoustic wave makes contact with the 3D printed metamaterial, it disturbs it, which then produces the properties that can block certain frequencies of mechanical vibrations and sound waves.

The magnetoactive acoustic metamaterial affixed to petri dish. [Image: Ashleen Knutsen]

“You can apply an external magnetic force to deform the structure and change the architecture and the geometry inside it,” said Wang. “Once you change the architecture, you change the property. We wanted to achieve this kind of freedom to switch between states. Using magnetic fields, the switch is reversible and very rapid.”

In order to work, the mechanism needs the negative modulus and density of the metamaterials; these are both positive in regular materials. An object will typically push back against you if you push it, but objects with a negative modulus pull you forward as you push; objects with negative density move toward you when you push them.

Yu explained, “Material with a negative modulus or negative density can trap sounds or vibrations within the structure through local resonances so that they cannot transfer through it.”

Schematic for the acoustic experiment. Cotton pads were attached to the inner surface of the plastic tube to reduce the acoustic reflection.

Just one negative property, be it density or modulus, is able to independently block vibrations and noise within certain frequencies, but these can pass through if the two negative properties work together. By switching the magnetic field, the researchers have versatile control and can switch the metamaterial between double-positive (sound passing), single-negative (sound blocking), and double-negative (sound passing again).

Wang said, “This is the first time researchers have demonstrated reversible switching among these three phases using remote stimuli.”

The team’s current system can only 3D print metamaterials with beam diameters between one micron and one millimeter, so it either needs to grow or shrink. Larger beams would affect lower frequency waves, while smaller ones would control waves of higher frequencies.

“There are indeed a number of possible applications for smartly controlling acoustics and vibrations. Traditional engineering materials may only shield from acoustics and vibrations, but few of them can switch between on and off,” Yu said.

Now, Wang thinks the team could get their metamaterial to demonstrate another unique property – negative refraction, or “anti-physics,” where a wave goes through the material and comes back in at an unnatural angle. Once the researchers manage to 3D print larger structures, they’ll focus more on studying this phenomenon.

“We want to scale down or scale up our fabrication system. This would give us more opportunity to work on a larger range of wavelengths,” Wang said.

Discuss this research and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: USC Viterbi]

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Renishaw & Cardiff University Dental Hospital 3D Print Removable Partial Dentures

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In just the past few years, Renishaw has shown stunning versatility in 3D printing endeavors—mainly assisting other organizations. With offices around the world, Renishaw experts best known for their knowledge in metrology and measurement have worked with others engaged in developing complex parts from America’s Cup sailboat parts to orbital implants for surgery in Nepal and mandibular implants in the UK—just to name a few items. The medical field has always been a center of focus for Renishaw however, evidenced with the opening of the Renishaw Healthcare Centre for Excellence a couple years ago.

Now, Renishaw is turning their sights toward the dental arena, working with Cardiff University Dental Hospital to research 3D printing of CoCr removable partial dentures. While all involved in the research realize the importance of and the growing popularity of implants, they also see that removable partial dentures (RPDs) are still in high demand. Currently, they are produced in wax and then cast manually, or designed digitally and then either cast in-house or through another party.

In line with some of the major benefits 3D printing can offer, Cardiff University Dental Hospital has sought to improve quality and efficiency in production as well as decreasing costs associated with miscasts.

“There are numerous variables that can result in a miscast as a result of the protracted workflow and complex nature of an RPD,” states the Renishaw team in their recent case study. “In addition to miscasts a number of other factors can affect the need for a remake including design changes, longevity between appointments and/or impression inaccuracies which may be attributed to the inexperience of dental undergraduates in the teaching environment. Industry feedback suggests there could be between 14 to 20% of castings requiring remakes, figures which would be unthinkable in most other manufacturing industries.

“With increasing environmental and economic pressures it’s critical that this situation is brought under control so that lab efficiency can be further enhanced and quality dental care be made available to a larger proportion of the populace.”

David Cruickshank is a member of the Renishaw team, as well as a PhD student focusing on digital denture design. He also has a penchant for 3D printing, especially in metal, and this project led to his thesis with research on furthering digital design, examining materials and how they affect performance, and how to use additive manufacturing effectively for RPDs.

In creating the new manufacturing technique for RPDs, he also worked with the following professionals from CUDH:

  • Roger Maggs RDT, Senior Chief Dental Laboratory Manager
  • Liam Addy, Consultant in Restorative Dentistry
  • Paul Clark RDT, Senior Dental Technologist

The team found that in using AM processes, they could take advantage of nearly all the benefits found in the progressive technology, including an improved bottom line, less waste of materials overall, better health and safety features, and less environmental impact. With 3D design they could also easily make refinements to RPDs and re-print at will, enjoying a more expedient workflow too.

In this case study, the team used Freeform, accompanied by the Geomagic’s Sensable Haptic Device—now known as the Touch X. Their design tools were topped off with the Renishaw DS20 optical scanner.

“Once the master model was scanned it was imported directly into the Freeform software,” explained the Renishaw team in their case study. “From here the operator can start to identify the insertion axis and block out undercuts. The undercuts can be varied to allow for tighter or looser retention. Also at this time, clearance from the gingiva can be dialled in to accommodate acrylic thickness.

“Using the Haptic arm can be a little alien at first but soon becomes second nature and the user will be quickly designing occlusal rests with intricate reciprocal and retentive arms.”

Using wax and then casting was replaced with production by Renishaw’s AM250 additive manufacturing (AM) machines after CUDH forwarded the .stl data.

“The major benefit for CUDH is that they simply send the .stl data to Renishaw for manufacture and can work on the next job instead of having to work through the highly skilled investment casting process. This can help make the lab process more efficient and cost effective,” states the case study.

Ten cases were evaluated, with each one using both a conventional and digital RPD structure. Dr. Liam Addy assessed the cases and found that for each one, the digital versions were best.

Find out more about the research for 3D printed RPDs here.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Source / Images: Renishaw]