An undergraduate student from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Amos Dudley, has 3D printed his own plastic braces that cost him mere $60 of materials and a whole lot of creativity. Dudley had braces in middle school, but he didn’t wear a retainer, so his teeth slowly shifted back.
Now needing a new set of braces, he didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars, which led to the idea of 3D printing them himself!
On his blog, Dudley writes,
“It was an unlikely combination of two things: was broke, but had access to a high-quality 3D printer through his university, so decided to take full advantage of this.”
Here is the process he used to create the braces:
Dudley came across an ad from a “name brand clear-alignment treatment” and noticed that their plastic teeth looked very similar to ones printed in a 3D printer. That inspired him to try to make his own version.
First, he made a cast of his teeth using alginate powder.
“These molds are very precise, and capture an amazing amount of detail,” he writes. “There were some bubbles in the mold,” but they wouldn’t matter for the aligner.
“Making this casting was simple, he says. I put the mold upside down in a yogurt container, and then filled it with liquid Permastone. When it came out, I simply broke off the top to reveal the casting, and used a razor blade to smooth out the surrounding area.”
Using this model, he had a better sense of the shape of his teeth.
After painless laser scanning, he placed the design using the NextEngine software.
“The dimensions of the scan seemed to correspond very closely to the dimensions I measured on the physical model with calipers,” he writes.
Finally, he was able to make a 3D mold of the teeth.
“Here’s where it started to get very exciting,” he writes.
Here’s a close up of the 3D-printed mold.
Here are all the “steps” of the 3D-printed teeth.
“Labeling the pieces is critical,” he advises. “They look virtually identical.”
And here is it after about four months.
You can view the entire process in detail on Dudley’s blog.