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September 25, 2023

The dental 3D printing market is blowing up. There hasn’t been this much interest and hype in an aspect of digital dentistry in a long time.

This 3D Printer Review is a collaboration with multiple leading digital dentistry clinicians here in Australia and New Zealand (read more about them at the end of this publication). This is based on our own experience with 3D printers in practice. Every single printer reviewed has been used by us extensively. 

Before starting, let us clarify what we base our evaluation on. Those familiar with our IOS reviews will understand our completely objective and brand agnostic comparison process. This is not a sponsored post. 

We have broken this 3D printer review into categories that you should focus on when purchasing a 3D printer for a clinic or lab, rather than a heap of technical specs that may confuse you.

Let us begin.

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Dental 3D Printer Comparison Criteria

Print Speed

How fast does it print? Simple.

We have tested these printers to print everything, including models, splints/night guards, custom trays, dentures, and restorations. This criterion judges a printer on its print speed.

Print speed is mainly critical for those thinking of same-day workflows. Otherwise, it is an aspect that is often given too much emphasis. Print speed is not as critical if you are running your printer overnight etc, but regardless, how fast your device prints may be important to you.

Ease of Use

Ease of use judges a printer based on, logically, how easy the system is to use.

This is an overarching criterion on how easy it is to get your printer ready, software working, your print files sent and printed successfully. This encompasses everything from the unboxing and set-up to the software and user-friendliness of the system.

Ease of use may not be critical to labs, but it may be crucial for clinics considering delegating printing to their support staff.

In essence, how easy is it to print and process your file of choice.

Reliability       

This criteria judges a printer based on the number of failed prints we experienced.

Failed prints are one of the most annoying things that can happen while you are printing. There is nothing worse than running a printer for hours and then coming back to find nothing or remnants on the build plate.

This criterion takes into account the overall reliability of the system and software-generated supports etc. What we consider is during our testing process how often failed prints occurred.

Software

Software is critical in 3D printing (the other critical aspect is materials). Research has clearly shown that most 3D printers are accurate and can print well - this applies to the cheapest 3D printers all the way to the most expensive. They all can do the job.

What differentiates printers is access to resins and software. Some printer software is very basic and borderline confusing to use. Others offer streamlined workflows, complete cloud services and, in some instances, even AI design services. This criterion judges the printers based on how good their software is - both downloaded and on the cloud if applicable. 

Material Options and Availability

How many resins are available to the printer and more importantly, are these validated?

This criterion takes into account how 'open' a 3D printer is. The access to resins may be important to you if you want to be able to use it all. Or maybe you are just looking for a few gold-standard resins like KeySplint Soft.

The material options available is one of the most important considerations you should look into when buying a 3D printer.

Investment Cost

Another self-explanatory criterion. The cost of the printer and resins is taken into account here.

Least expensive to most expensive printers on the market.

Printer Technology

What is the type of 3D printer technology is being used to cure the photopolymer resins we are dealing with – LCD, DLP or SLA?

Read our blog article to learn more about how these 3D printing technologies differ or take our 3D Printing course bundle to get in-depth training.

Additional 3D Printer Criteria

Build Platform Size

How big is the build platform? This is quite an important consideration that is often overlooked.

This will be important for you based on your needs. Some build platforms can barely fit 2 models placed flat, while others can fit 10+. The build platform size is important for labs or clinics that require large print volumes, e.g. ortho facilities that will print hundreds of models per week.

Or you may only want a small printer to print the occasional night guard/splint and restorations - then a small build platform may be better for you - because these printers tend to be smaller.

Set-Up Difficulty

This criterion takes into account how easy is the printer to unbox and set-up, ready for printing.

Some printers are extremely easy to set up with well thought out tutorials and on-screen instructions. Others can be quite confusing. Moreover, others require a service technician to come in. Which one is it for your printer of choice.

Connectivity

This is important for you to think about when buying a 3D printer for your lab or clinic. 

How does the 3D printer connect with your 3D printing software. How do you send jobs to the printer?

Some printers only have a direct LAN connection option. This means it needs to be physically connected to the network to enable communication with a the computer with the 3D printer software installed.

Others have WI-FI available which is far more preferable. There are also some printers that enable plugging in a USB with required files directly into the printer. 

Depending on your needs and set-up, this is important to consider.

Cloud

Does the printer utilise a cloud service?

Most leading printers on the market have some form of cloud service available. This allows you to track your print metrics, check the status of your printer and even in some cases run print jobs remotely.

More over, some printers have fully fledged CAD design services either run by technicians or AI all on the cloud.

Open or Closed

Open printers can be use any resin on the market. 

Closed printers can only use resins that are validated by the company itself. This often includes third party resins. 

The degree of how 'closed' a printer is, varies quite a lot. Some printers are closed but the company has validated 30+ resins. Other printers are closed and only have a resin library of 7-12 resins.

Whether a printer is open or closed really only matters depending on what you want to print. For example, for splints, KeySplint Soft is usually desired. If you want to print splints you usually want to make sure your printer can use this material. However, for models, a printer being closed, doesn't really in reality. Every printer comes with decent enough model resin. Being open really only allows you to to access cheaper resins for this indication.

Heater

Internal heaters are built into the vast majority of printers but not all.

A heater is critical to warm the resin to the ideal temperature for use before printing. Each resin has a different ideal temperature and this is usually advised by the manufacturer and is validated in good printers.

Having the resin at the right temperature is vital for optimal performance and printing success.

If your printer does not have a heater inbuilt you may need to consider an external heater for your resins.

Washing and/or Curing machines

Does your printer come with a complete workflow from print to wash and cure?

Or is it just a printer and you have to buy third party devices to complete the job?

It is important to realize that not every printer company sells a wash and cure machine. Regardless of your printer of choice, for every print job you will need to ensure you have some method of washing the prints and then curing them. The entire workflow is important to consider.

So that is all the criteria we will be covering. 

Let's get in to the reviews.

Note - in alphabetical order, not the best to worst 🙂

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Ackuretta Dentiq Review

3D Printer Ratings

Print Speed

Reliability

Ease of Use

Software

Material Options

Investment Cost

Wash

Cure

3D PRINTER FEATURES

Printer Type

RGB LCD - 385 ~ 405 nm

Build Platform Size

Medium 120 x 68 mm

Set Up Difficulty

Easy

Cloud Software

None Available

Open System

150+ validated resins

Built-in Heater


Connectivity

USB, WiFi and Ethernet

Print Speed

Not the fastest printer. This is now a relatively outdated printer superseded by the SOL which is 3 times faster. The Dentiq focused on reliability and accuracy at a cheaper price point. Still decent for those on a tight budget.

Ease of Use

A true plug and play printer, no messing about out of the box, it is ready to go from the moment you plug it into the wall. Alpha AI is an intuitive app that is very easy to use.

Reliability

Although not very fast in speed, in our experience it has been quite a reliable printer. It was relatively rare to have failed prints with this device when used properly. Perhaps the conservative nature of the engineering pays dividends.

One important thing to note is that the Dentiq lacks a Resin Tank/Vat heater. This means you may need to externally heat certain resins for consistent printing in cooler months. 

Software

Alpha AI is user friendly. Most doctors can pick it up without any formal training. It is constantly updated, new versions are always coming out with improved resin profiles. 

It does not currently have a any AI features / CAD like Sprintray nor the extensive cloud features like Formlabs. So above average printer software that does the job. 

Material Options and Availability

Ackuretta DENTIQ is a complete open system with 150+ pre-validated materials, working with all the big name resin manufacturers to validate the printing process. Everything Ackuretta recognises is also tested and proven, so we can rest assured that the correct process is adhered to. The R&D team is quite response, when new and exciting resins come out, the teams will be working hard to push it out as soon as it's ready.

Investment Cost

Around 4000 USD for the entire set-up.

At about half the cost of the SOL, for doctors who do not need the speed of the newer printer, the Dentiq is a good choice; or perhaps a good option as a second printer for someone who already owns the SOL.

Printer Technology

The Ackuretta DENTIQ uses a RGB LCD which has a lower energy output and also much shorter life span of only 800 hours vs the longer lasting monochromatic LCDs that last 10,000 hours like the SOL has.

The CURIE and CLEANI work very well. 

Build Platform Size

Platform is good for 2-3 full arch models, or 3-4 splints angled. Comparable to other printers of this category.

Total volume:  120 x 68 x 140 mm
Build plate area: 8,160 mm2

Set-Up Difficulty

Very easy set up, minimal fuss, takes only minutes to get going. 

Connectivity

Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB. Can connect via IP from a computer on the same network. The menu on the printer is looking a bit outdated, but it does not negatively affect the functionality significantly. 

Cloud

No cloud connectivity, unlikely to be introduced as development is happening on the newer model of printer - SOL.

Washing / Curing Machines

The CLEANI is a two stage washing unit, two tanks one for the dirty (first) wash and one for the clean (second) wash, with a mixer at the bottom that creates a vortex. It is a nice unit with a small footprint and size. 

CURIE is a fantastic curing unit, many users of other printer brands choose the CURIE due to its capability, speed of curing, efficiency and cost.

The Bottom Line

The Ackuretta Dentiq is a strong entry-level LCD printer for dental professionals. While on the slow side, it makes up for it with its ease of use and software that is generally user-friendly for beginners. Users who want better speed may opt for its more robust successor, the SOL. No resin heating functionality may be a concern for users in cooler climates or those who want to print ceramic-filled resins, which tend to print more reliably at a temperature range of 25-35°C.

Don't have time to read the full article? 

Ackuretta SOL Review

3D Printer Ratings

Print Speed

Reliability

Ease of Use

Software

Material Options

Investment Cost

Wash

Cure

3D PRINTER FEATURES

Printer Technology

Mono LCD - 385 ~ 405 nm

Build Platform Size

Small, Medium, Large - different options

Set Up Difficulty

Easy

Cloud Software

Automated Firmware Updates

Open System

150+ validated resins

Built-in Heater

No Heater

Connectivity

USB, WiFi and Ethernet

Print Speed

Great speed. Not the fastest but good for a LCD printer. Not designed for maximum/reckless speed, the SOL combines reliability, accuracy and fast prints. Having pioneered the medium and small build plates which others have since copied it seems, the SOL gives doctors the option of smaller print platforms that can print quicker. 

Ease of Use

A true plug and play printer, no messing about out of the box, it is ready to go from the moment you plug it into the wall. Alpha AI is an intuitive app that is very easy to use like in the Dentiq.

Reliability

A decently reliable LCD printer. Over 2 years’ experience with the SOL, I have experienced less than 5% failure rate. All the failed prints can be put down as generally user error when pushing the limits of what’s possible or not following basic printing principles. However, in saying this, we are seeing a number of users complain of failed prints on FB user groups.

Like the Dentiq, also note that the SOL lacks a Resin Tank/Vat heater. This means you may need to externally heat certain resins for consistent printing in cooler months. 

Software

Alpha AI software that runs the SOL is user friendly. Most doctors can pick it up without any formal training. It is constantly being updated with new versions coming out with improved resin profiles. 

Material Options and Availability

Ackuretta SOL is a complete open system with 150+ pre-validated materials, working with all the big name resin manufacturers to validate the printing process. Like the Dentiq above, everything Ackuretta recognises is tested and proven. The R&D team is quick to add new resins to the platform when they are released.

Investment Cost

SOL + CLEANI + CURIE is around $8,000 USD.

Printer Technology

The Ackuretta SOL delivers accurate results with its 54 LEDs that perform at 95% light uniformity. Due to a higher power output. brighter stronger light of 5 mw/cm2 compared to the 1 mw/cm2 for the Dentiq, the SOL achieves three times the speed of a regular LCD printer. The dynamic LED auto-selects curing areas to enhance accuracy and extend the LCD panel's life.

The CURIE and CLEANI work very well. 

Build Platform Size

Originally starting out with just one build platform at 128 x 80mm, Ackuretta then brought out a medium and small platform for the SOL.

The reason for this is with a smaller surface build platform you can get a faster print because less resin is displaced when the platform enters the vat + less resin needs to flow back into position for printing the next layer, allowing for a shorter wait time in between layers.

The medium build platform has a printing area of 70 x 70 mm which makes it ideal for single full arch applications to be printed flat in around 25 minutes. 

The small build platform has a printing area of 40 x 20 mm which is great for crowns, bridges and gingiva masks. It can fit 5-7 crowns or a couple of bridges which can be printed in as little as 15 minutes at a 70 micron layer thickness.

The large build platform is good for 2-3 full arch models, or 3-4 splints angled.

Total volume: 128 x 80 x 140 mm
Build plate area: 10,240 mm2

Set-Up Difficulty

Truly plug and play. Very easy set up, intuitive menu, my first SOL was up and running within 3 minutes of opening the box.

Connectivity

Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB. Can connect via IP from a computer on the same network. Like the Dentiq - plenty of options but more.

Cloud

Automatic Cloud Based Firmware Updates which makes it easier to get the latest validated settings available

Washing / Curing Machines

The CLEANI is a two stage washing unit. CURIE is a fantastic curing unit, many users of other printer brands choose the CURIE due to its capability, speed of curing, efficiency and cost.

The Bottom Line

The Ackuretta SOL is a great dental 3D printer for those users who want to benefit from a premium product, without the DLP price tag. While LCD printers tend to be slower than DLP printers, the SOL makes up for it with different sized build plates, meaning that restorations may be printed in as short as 15-25 minutes, depending on the print height and layer height.

Resin heating functionality is a curious omission in otherwise a great all-round 3D printing product. The Curie Plus on paper is a fantastic curing option, with many dental resins validated on in already. 

Download the Full Review PDF

Download the full 78 page PDF to get a full copy of this article to read later.

Get a high resolution printable copy of this review.

Asiga Max UV Review

3D Printer Ratings

Print Speed

Reliability

Ease of Use

Software

Material Options

Investment Cost

Wash

Requires 3rd party unit

Cure

Curing unit is very basic

3D PRINTER FEATURES

Printer Type

DLP - 385nm or 405nm LED

Build Platform Size

Small - 119 × 67 mm

Set Up Difficulty

Medium

Cloud Software

None Available

Open System

Over 500 validated materials

Built-in Heater

Connectivity

WiFi and Ethernet

Print Speed

Although very capable, the Asiga Max UV is one of the slower DLP printers on the market. This by no means makes it 'slow' but compared to other printers that can print models in 20 minutes, this is not the fastest printer on the market.

Study models positioned straight onto the build platform will take around 45 minutes to print for example. We have also noticed that the print time estimation in the software differs from the actual printing time - often being quite a lot longer in duration. This is due to every layer taking a slightly different time to print which directly correlates to the cross-sectional area of each layer. The larger the cross-sectional area, the longer the platform will take to reach position.

Like other printers, print speed depends on material, slice thickness and print settings, which can vary widely due to the open material system and what resin used. Overall the speed is slightly slower to other DLP printers and is relatively fast compared to laser based SLA products. 

Print speed aside, it remains a hugely popular choice in the dental market thanks to its huge resin library and incredible reliability. Of all the printers that are validated for professional dental use, the Asiga Max UV is above average in speed and achieves a great deal considering it is one of the most compact printers available.

Ease of Use

When using this printer it is simple to insert the build platform and exchanging resin vats is super quick and easy to do.

What is somewhat confusing are all the physical printer menus, settings and maintenance options (most of which will never be used), Also, the printer’s display screen is a little too small.

There is a bit of a learning curve to get started, having a lot of sensors and technology built into the printer means the user will need to take time to understand the correct setup process. If calibration and setup process is not done right, there can be issues in the printing process.

Asiga’s Software Composer is quite outdated and feels clunky compared to others. A new update is in the works.

Reliability

The Asiga Max UV is known to be an incredibly reliable and consistent printer. Once you get over the learning curve and software, the Max UV is capable of extremely accurate and precise prints.

It is no surprise the Asiga line of printers are hugely popular in dental labs all over the globe. This printer has sensors that can detect debris in the resin tank during printing, pausing the print and therefore reducing the risk of FEP damage and perforation.

Once setup correctly, the printer is an industry favourite and for good reason. In a high demand clinic, Asiga should be high on the list as a go-to printer for reliability.

Software

The Asiga Max UV uses the Composer Slicer which has been recently updated!

In previous iterations it was not easy to use this software for the untrained user. There was no specific dental functionality and the user interface was convoluted and clunky.

Thankfully in their latest update, the visual presentation has received a major overhaul and it is now substantially easier to use for novices. It is easier to position and orientate models and support them and go through the entire software process.

There is still quite a number of buttons compared to other user-friendly software, but it is a huge improvement and gets the job done. 

Material Options and Availability

The Asiga Max UV is a completely open printer and boasts the largest library of validated settings for third party resins. There are over 500 materials validated, and these are all available via Asiga’s Material Library online. 

You can find your material of choice and download the required settings to print it. The resin profiles are also constantly being updated to improve their performance.

This is one of the areas where the Asiga Max UV shines. It offers freedom to users all over the world. It is a relatively simple process to download your desired resin settings from their database. 

Most notably, Asiga is the only printer aside from the Primeprint that has access to the Lucitone Denture resins - considered widely as the best denture resins on the market. 

Investment Cost

The printer will cost you around $11,000 USD depending on your local distributor and region. This does not include a wash or cure, but does include unlimited lifetime technical support for free which is accessible via Asiga Customer Support Centre, online ticketing system, Asiga resellers and all Asiga offices (Australia, USA, Germany).

In addition, vats are consumables and will expire after a pre-determined volume of resin is printed with it, irrespective if the vat is still usable or not. 

Printer Technology

DLP - industrial-grade 385nm LED.

The major difference is Asiga’s layering technique starting with their SPS™ technology that provides platform positioning feedback ensuring the build platform is where it needs to be for every layer. This is the part that makes Asiga so special and guarantees Z height precision.

Internally within the projector is Asiga’s radiometer / light meter for automatic LED power adjustment - this provides real-time feedback and automatic cure time adjustment based on actual LED power resulting in precise layer curing for every layer. All these factors combined ensure a consistent and repeatable output.

The company has also recently released the Ultra Gloss resin trays which is a genius invention and results in super clear printing  - mainly used for splints. 

Build Platform Size

This printer is definitely more suited for chairside printing low volumes rather than a huge print operation, e.g. printing a couple of small items e.g. surgical guides, splints at any one time.

The platform can fit 2-3 full arch models flat on the print bed, or 3-4 splints angled. Comparable to other printers of this size and category.

Total volume: 119 × 67 × 75 mm
Build plate area: 7,973 mm2

Set-Up Difficulty

The Asiga Max UV is relatively straightforward to set up. Levelling is easy to perform and Asiga has easy to follow video tutorials on how to set the printer up on their Youtube channel.

However, the printer’s menu options can be a little frustrating to navigate through and we really wish the LCD screen was a bit larger.

You will require an account with Asiga prior to gaining access to your desired resin libraries. Updating the printer’s firmware is not straightforward. Overall, easy enough but it takes some time to properly learn the calibration and setup process.

Connectivity 

Wi-Fi, Wireless Direct, Ethernet. Wireless Direct is where the printer transmits its own Wifi signal allowing you to connect directly when an active Wifi network is not available.

Regardless of what you choose, the connection only needs to be operational during print transfer. 

Connecting the printer to the internet was a little inconsistent – at one location, it connected and operated smoothly, but at another, connection to the printer via the internet was slow and unreliable.

There is unfortunately no printing via USB but there is a cool feature - users can control the front panel of the printer from a remote connection.

Cloud

The Asiga Max UV does not utilise any cloud-based software or storage, but you can access the printer menu online.

Heater

It is there but not excellent. 

The on-board heater on the MAX UV can warm the build chamber to 10 degrees Celsius above ambient.  It is not essential to warm the resin but by warming the resin it reduces viscosity and permits faster printing.

With Asiga you do not need to wait for the printer to warm the resin.  You can print materials directly out of the fridge without issue. The only impact will be printing speeds.

Washing / Curing Machines

The Asiga Max UV is sometimes sold with an extremely simple and underwhelming curing unit. There is no washing unit manufactured by Asiga.

This is the Achilles’ heel of Asiga - no good washing and curing options to accompany the printer. Therefore, users are left to find their own solution from a 3rd party company.

The Bottom Line

Despite its age, the Asiga Max UV is undoubtedly a great printer. It is in fact one of the most popular printers in labs and clinics across the globe for good reason - it's super reliability and has the most open system out of any printer. Asiga boasts a huge library of validated resins – the biggest in the market. On top of its reliability, it is a fan favourite. 

The printer as a whole is somewhat let down by software that isn’t as intuitive as other competitors and lacks any cloud features. It also lacks a complete workflow - no washing or curing unit. But we are told this is coming next year.

One of the printers on the dental market that is quite easy to recommend. 

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