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Inside Dental Technology

Jul/Aug 2012, Volume 3, Issue 7
Published by AEGIS Communications

Digital Partial Design and Manufacturing

Using 3D printing technology to fabricate removable partial denture frameworks.

By Robert Kreyer, Jr., CDT

As prosthetic dental laboratory technology evolves in the digital world, technicians must learn how to use these new manufacturing processes. Such technology will help them improve their prosthetic quality, communication, efficiency, and productivity. Three-dimensional digital printing technology and other digital fabrication processes will not replace the experienced and educated dental technologist, because knowledge of biomechanical principles of removable partial denture frameworks is still essential to a successful case. Because digital evolutionary technologies are changing so fast, the author thought it best to collaborate on this article with other technicians and manufacturers with experience in and knowledge about with the various 3D printing technologies on the market. The technology presented from 3Shape and Envisiontec is used at the author’s laboratory, MicroDental. Because MicroDental does not use the 3D Systems inkjet printing system, which is another proven way to print partial denture patterns, the author reached out to CadBlu Dental for information on the use of that system. He also asked Ann Schmitt from CMP Industries for her expertise on investing 3D-printed patterns using Microfire investment (CMP Industries, In addition, Scott Udell provided comparative information from a broad spectrum of dental laboratories using Labtrac case management software (Labtrac Solutions, Udell’s information compares time studies using conventional casting techniques versus aided design and manufacturing techniques (See Chart).

In his article, “Digitally Designed RPD Framework,” in the March 2012 issue of Inside Dental Technology, the author demonstrated what can be done using the 3Shape CAD Software ( As discussed in the the article, he designed maxillary
and mandibular frameworks using the 3Shape Partial Design System and printed them in wax resin using two different technologies. One set was printed with the Envisiontec Perfactory Ultra2 ( and the other set was printed with 3D Systems Projet 3000 inkjet system (

Scan, Design, Print

This was not a study on the two technologies but rather a laboratory comparison of techniques, materials, and finished partial castings. To begin the digital fabrication process, the maxillary and mandibular models were scanned, then designed using the 3Shape partial denture design system (Figure 1 through Figure 3).

One set of design file data was transmitted to the 3D inkjet system, and the other set of files was printed using the Envisiontec Ultra2 perfactory system. Figure 4 through Figure 8 demonstrate the removable partial denture framework digital design using the perfactory spruing technique. In Figure 9, the final printed resin patterns are shown attached to sprues and print platform. The resin sprues from the Envisiontec printing process are easily removed, taking an average of 3 minutes per partial to cut and smooth the sprues.

In Figure 10 and Figure 11, a printed partial pattern from the 3D Systems inkjet printing technology is shown. The white wax sprue system is very different than that from Envisiontec and is eliminated in minutes by soaking in corn oil at 81°F.

Figure 12 shows the Envisontec perfactory maxillary partial pattern after the sprues have been removed and smoothed, leaving the support bar for spruing to invest and then cast. Figure 13 through Figure 15 are the printed maxillary and mandibular partials from the 3D Systems inkjet technology. Of note is the great detail in the external and internal finish lines with both printing systems.

When conventionally spruing a partial framework designed, duplicated, and hand waxed on a refractory cast and cast in metal using conventional partial casting techniques, only one framework at a time can be invested and cast. In other words, using a burn-out furnace that holds 10 rings, only 10 frameworks can be cast during a single burn-out cycle. Using 3D printing technology, four partial pattern frameworks can be sprued and invested in a single ring, making it possible to cast up to 40 frameworks per burn-out cycle using a 10-ring capacity furnace (Figure 16). Figure 17 shows four 3D printed partial framework patterns sprued and placed in a ring ready for investing. In Figure 18, the patterns are invested using the Microfire investment.


Dental laboratory technology is currently in a period of consolidation with a decreasing number of dental laboratories offset by an increasing demand for removable partial denture prosthetics. Having the ability to manufacture digital partial frameworks will increase daily productivity and profitability in the laboratory. The computer-aided design and manufacturing technology for prosthetic dentistry is in its infancy and will continue to evolve in the coming months and years. As in life and business, it is necessary to always plan for the future and change plans according to business needs and demands. The dental profession and industry is rapidly changing from year to year. Dental technicians and laboratory owners must evolve and change with the times as well.

To read the author’s first article on “Digitally Designed RPD Framework,” please visit:

About the Author

Robert Kreyer, CDT
Director of Removable Prosthodontics
Dublin, California

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Image Gallery

Figure 1  The 3Shape virtual surveyor enables a technician to precisely locate the desired path of insertion when digitally designing a removable partial denture framework.

Figure 1

Figure 2   The block-out process is a simple click to eliminate undesirable undercuts and locate desirable undercuts according to depth chart on the right.

Figure 2

Figure 3  A digitally designed removable partial denture framework is virtually created and ready to add sprues for perfactory pattern printing.

Figure 3

Figure 4   The maxillary is virtually designed as a waxed framework with support bar.

Figure 4

Figure 5  Sprues are placed through-out the mandibular virtual framework preparing for additive perfactory pattern printing.

Figure 5

Figure 6  Maxillary sprues are lined up and attached preparing for pattern printing.

Figure 6

Figure 7  Maxillary digital RPD framework with sprues attached on the virtual plate.

Figure 7

Figure 8  Mandibular digital RPD framework with sprues attached on the virtual plate.

Figure 8

Figure 9: Maxillary and mandibular digital RPD frameworks with a virtual sprue network.

Figure 9

Figure 10  Maxillary and mandibular perfactory printed patterns on resin plate.

Figure 10

Figure 11  The CadBlu 3D Systems inkjet printed pattern is another option with a solid wax sprue base.

Figure 11

Figure 12  The Envisontec perfactory maxillary partial pattern after the sprues have been removed and smoothed leaving the support bar for spruing to invest and then cast.

Figure 12

Figure 13  The Envisiontec maxillary pattern printed with perfactory EC 1000 resin.

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Figure 14  The maxillary printed pattern using the CadBlu Projet DP 3000 3D printer.

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Figure 15  An intaglio view of the same maxillary 3D Systems inkjet printed pattern.

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Figure 16  The mandibular inkjet printed pattern.

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Figure 17  The mandibular RPD framework is printed using Envisiontec additive perfactory EC 1000 resin.

Figure 17

Figure 18  The multiple Envisiontec perfactory printed patterns are sprued in one ring.

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Figure 20  Casting of four perfactory RPD framework patterns at once. This casting technique improves efficiency and productivity for investing, burn-out, and casting procedures.

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Figure 22  The finished and polished RPD frameworks from digitally designed and computer-aided manufactured printed patterns.

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Figure 23  The finished and polished RPD frameworks from digitally designed and computer-aided manufactured printed patterns.

Figure 23