March 8, 2022

Three days ago Dentsply Sirona held an online event called "The Future of Digital Dentistry" (link here for the live stream). This event was a sneak peek into the latest Dentsply Sirona updates, future vision, workflow improvements, and new releases - for both dental labs and clinicians.

Arguably, the biggest announcement of the entire event was the new Dentsply Sirona medical-grade 3D printer built "for the future of digital dentistry" called the Primeprint.

We have taken the liberty to summarize all the information from the event for you below.

Dentsply Sirona announce a Partnership with Google

  • This partnership seems to be focused on cloud storage, AI and software development.
  • Traditionally, all CEREC or imaging data etc. has been stored locally or on the local network in the practice. This is looking like its going to move to the cloud.
  • The company mentioned a lot about digital dentistry products not connecting easily together. Interesting, considering you still cannot import any external scan file into chairside CEREC CAD. It remains as a locked system basically.
  • The vision seems to be organizing all patient information in a central place that is easy to access and secure. A way to connect, analyze and process all the different digital information that is collected. Similar to what other companies call 'the virtual patient'.
  • There was also  talks about potential AI-aided diagnostics with machine learning.
  • Little more information was provided at this stage...

The Primeprint (and Primeprint Post-Processing Unit)

CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (2)
  • A medical-grade 3D printing solution that seems to focus on ease of use, integration easily into the Dentsply ecosystem, and automating the printing + washing process.
  • Consists of 2 devices: the Primeprint 3D printer itself, and the Post-Processing Unit (PPU)
  • A new software is coming in order to run the Primeprint. The focus is simplicity. 
dentsply_sirona_primeprint_iDD
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (4)
  • The Primeprint 3D printing solution utilizes 385 nm digital light processing (DLP) printing technology and a fully automatic post processing unit. This the company says, will enable reliable and repeatable high quality outputs. 
  • Post processing of all printing products includes two isopropyl alcohol washes, air drying and then light curing. Again, all completely automated.
  •  A four step process was explained in order to print a product:
  1. 1
    Prepare the print file
  2. 2
    Prepare the Primeprint 3D printer (insert printer cartridges etc)
  3. 3
    After printing, move the Primeprint box to the Post-Processing Unit (PPU)
  4. 4
    Remove sprues, polish etc.
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (3)
  • The major focus of the entire show is simplicity and automation. The idea that anyone can use this printer without being a 'printing expert'. Also, reducing handling times and manual work.
  • Printer materials seem to be locked to the system and propriety products with specific print resign cartridges made for the Primeprint.
  • One benefit of these cartridges is that the material is fully enclosed and users are never in contact with any resin. No-mess, easy handling process. 
  • Cartridges are colour coded so that each material type is very obvious.
  • Each cartridge aka material unit has a RFID code which is automatically read by the Primeprint when inserted, to recognize what resin is inside the printer.  
  • The Primeprint automatically releases the exact amount of resin required to print whatever job you have sent to the printer. 
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (5)
  • Primeprint Box is the container used to move print products from the Primeprint to the Post Processing Unit. 
  • The Primeprint Post Processing Unit uses a robotic arm to move the printed object automatically throughout the different processing steps
  • 2 washing cycles, air-blowing, then light curing.
  •  The Post Processing Unit automatically measures the purity of the alcohol used for the washing stages. Alarming you when its time to change the alcohol.
  • The entire process occurs without ever having to touch resin etc. The focus very much seems to be user-friendliness.
  • Additionally, a cloud-based design service to enable ready-to-print design files for those who do not what to get involved in software based CAD work.
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (6)
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (8)

OK sounds good. But what info is missing from this event?

  1. 1
    Price: ?
  2. 2
    Print platform size: ?  (looks small)
  3. 3
    Resolution: ?
  4. 4
    Software: ?
  5. 5
    Print Speed: ?
  6. 6
    Available Resins: ? (closed or open)
  7. 7
    Release Date: ?
  8. 8
    Accuracy: ?
  9. 9
    Printer size: ? (looks big)

An exciting announcement no doubt. A 3D printer being made by the company has been talked about since the CEREC Primescan was released. But are Dentsply Sirona late to the party?

There has been a lot of contention online about this product. For one, it looks huge. But we must not forget that the Primeprint system includes a fully automated wash and processing unit. Dentsply Sirona KOL Dr. Skramstad shared these images about a size comparison:

CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (2)
CEREC PRIMEPRINT DENTSPLY SIRONA iDD INSTITUTE OF DIGITAL DENTISTRY (1)

The other areas of concern that have been voiced is the fact that the build platform looks small and Primeprint seems to use self-contained resins. These have many advantages but also seems to be a closed system. Is this printer closed off to all the other (popular) third party resins? In saying that, what if you no longer need third party resins, with Dentsply Sirona releasing materials for every indication you need?

The fact the system is heavily automated provides countless advantages for ease of use and efficiency, however, how easy is it to troubleshoot when things go wrong?  With so many moving parts (robotic arms etc) there may be a higher risk for things to break.

Also quite interestingly, the company didn't mention anything about price. This may make or break the success of the printer in the market. You can get a whole SprintRay bundle for likely a lot less and have more flexibility. 

On one hand, I think this will likely be an expensive product compared to the majority of 3D printers on the market. On the other hand, however, Dentsply Sirona are masters of the digital production workflow and making it easy. Just look at how good their chairside workflow is. This is the reason we personally own five complete CEREC systems (5 scanners + 5 mills). The system just works with minimal effort. To the point that the inflated costs of the CEREC scanners (compared to other cheap scanners on the market now) are completely justified. 

It will be interesting to see how the Primeprint system finds its footing in the market. Dentsply Sirona enjoy some of the most loyal customers in the entire industry, regardless of price. In saying that we have seen other large dental companies like Planmeca and Ivoclar release printers with little success.

Will Primeprint find success? Leave your comments and thoughts below!

About the author 

Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny

Dr Ahmad is a global leader in digital dentistry and intraoral scanners, carrying out lectures as a KOL for many companies and industry. He is one of the few in the world who owns and has tested all mainstream scanners and CAD/CAM systems in his clinic. Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny is also the Director of The Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD), which is a world-leading digital dentistry education provider. iDD offers live courses, masterclasses, and an online training platform, with a mission to ensure dentists globally have easy and affordable access to the best digital dentistry training possible.

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