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May 8, 2023

On our recent trip to IDS 2023, we met with an extremely interesting company who have just stepped into the world of 3D dental printing. 

Heimerle + Meule is Germany’s oldest gold and silver refinery, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to see them branch out into dental products. However, the company has developed and produced precious metal dental alloys in-house for almost 100 years. 

Their current product offerings include:

  • Extensive selection of alloys.

  • Modern ceramic systems.

  • Construction and friction elements for combination techniques.

  • GES electro-forming system: for producing pure gold, self-supporting metal frames.

  • Appliances and consumables.

  • Recycling precious metals from residues, waste, and exhausted electroplating baths.

We chatted with Tom Eckert, Heimerle + Meule’s Medical Device Consultant and Export Manager to see what the company has to offer digital dentists. 

You can watch the video below or enjoy the transcript instead.

Hi Tom, I'm from Australia and this is the first time I have heard of the company. Can you give us a bit of history about the company?

Our company is the oldest Gold and Silver Refinery in Germany, and we sell our products around Europe. Last year we started with our new 3D printer, the FPM.

Why transition to making a 3D printer when you’re a gold and silver refinery?

For 50 years, we worked on dental products in Europe, and now we want to start doing digital. So, we started with our new 3D printer.

Are these printers aimed at a dentist as a chairside solution or for dental labs?

I would say both. It's a chairside solution, but mainly, we want to sell them to dental labs for crowns, partial dentures, trays, and casts.

Now, I see a few different things from other filament printers on the market. So what's unique about your printer?

The unique thing is the drive bed. You can have a continuous print, and the first piece is already printed, it throws it out, drives back, and prints the next piece. Also, the speed is unique.

What sort of speed are we talking about?

 For example, we were around one hour of printing time, and for casts, one and a half to two hours.

Okay. Can we do implant surgical guides with this?

Yeah, sure.

So, because you've got the automatic ejection and then reprint, it's going to allow you to keep going all day long, 24 hours, right?

Yeah, that's right. So you have a continuous print, and if one piece, for example, a tray is already printed, you can use it, and you don't have to wait until all the pieces are printed.

Very exciting. Is there anything special about the filaments in terms of the materials they're made from?

The material we use for the trays and cast is recyclable. 

What's the recycling process after they've been used?

Cut it into pieces and then you can recycle it.

Could you clarify if this material is biodegradable or if it can be recycled with plastic and reused? 

Right. It's biodegradable.

Okay, so are all of your filaments biodegradable?

Only the materials for trays and casts, therefore, the partial dentures are the other polymer, those are not biodegradable.

You've gone through filament approvals for biocompatibility?

Yes, so you can also do partial dentures, for example. Our materials are suitable for individuals with allergies, as they are free of any edits or modifications. It's a really good product made in Germany.

Great, so what's the cost of these filaments? Obviously, probably a little different depending on the part, but what are we looking at for a couple of different products?

So the printer costs 8,250 Euros. And for the materials for our trays, it’s 80 Euros for one kilogram.

A tray, is around one Euro per tray.

For a cast, around two to three Euros for material costs. And for partial dentures, it's nearly the same price as a cast, so partial dentures are around three Euros.

Obviously being a filament printer, there's no wash or cure process. It comes out finished, ready to go?

Yeah, that's right. So no light-curing, no vapors, no washing. It's just a clean solution for 3D printing.

And no smell?

No smell. That's true. It's really nice.

There's no ventilation required for these machines?

No. So we have ventilators, but we don't need them. It’s for cooling.

In terms of software and integration, I'm assuming this is open? 

Yes, you can use any software. You can use any materials you can print with our materials, but you can also use any other material from another company.

You don't just limit it to your own resins?

It's an open system.

That's wonderful. Do you have your own specific software in terms of a slicer for setting up?

Not our own slicing software, but we use simplified ideas. This is a slicer we use with our printer.

And does the price you quoted before include the slicer software?

Yes, that includes the software.

One of the unique things about this printer is it's got a jewel filament, you've got multiple colors, so to speak, for different applications. Why is that?

We have our pink material and our tooth color material for partial dentures and our blue material for trays, it's certified to be in contact with the patient's mouth. Our white material is for our casts.

Okay, so if I'm printing a denture, can I print both the denture and the teeth at once?

No, not at the same time. First of all, you print the partial denture, you print the teeth, and can put it together with cold cure polymer.

Great, so bond them together, but obviously automated so I can set it up to print both and have white and pink loaded in the machine at the same time?

Yeah, sure. So you have continuous prints. You have the partial denture and the tooth, and after time you come back, and you have both printed and ready.

Very interesting. So if I'm doing trays, I can also have the white model material loaded and rotate between trays and models on the same machine?

Right. So we can switch materials, and that's a cool thing.

So how many materials do you have in total?

Five. So our tooth color material for partial dentures, our pink material for partial dentures, our tray material, and two different materials for casts.

So with the tooth material for the dentures, what's the strength of that? Is that for a temporary denture or is this more of a permanent solution?

 No, it's only for a temporary solution, so it's only for 30 days.

So where in the world can we currently get this printer?

Now you can only buy it in Germany, and in the next month we will sell it in all of Europe, and I believe in the next year we are looking for distributors to sell our printer abroad.

All right, so you heard it here first. If you're interested in this innovative filament printer, get in touch.

Thanks for your time again.

No problem. You're welcome.

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 a full-time private dentist in New Zealand and the Director of The Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD), 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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