Materials development over the past five years has shifted dramatically away from products used in analog metal-based conventional manufacturing processes to those needed for automated all-ceramic production, as well as from a dominating focus on conventional crown and bridge solutions to materials formulated for the automated production of implant supported restorations and removable prosthetics. Driving the development of these new material solutions is the demand for more efficient, streamlined manufacturing processes and the need for expanded material options. In all segments of material development, the industry is heading toward simplicity in material handling and production efficiencies, while looking to maintain positive esthetic aspects of final case outcome.
This year, groundbreaking advances in all-ceramic composite and zirconia-reinforced lithium silicate and composite milling materials challenged the category leaders for esthetically driven full contour single unit restorations, veneers, and three-unit bridges. The industry was also introduced to a millable green-state metal from a variety of manufacturers that, once sintered in an argon-infused furnace, results in a strong chrome-cobalt substructure. New ultra-translucent zirconia milling blocks were introduced to the market this year, as were milling blocks for creating denture bases, new millable wax and PMMA milling pucks, and advanced 3D printing materials for creating models, denture bases, and flexible partial denture frameworks.
Not all new product introductions in this category focused on millable materials—low-gold, high-palladium content alloy for casting, 3D printed alloys for delivery of immediate layering copings, zirconia layering porcelains, new investment materials, production-efficient denture tooth setup systems, and flexible partial denture materials also found their way onto the market.
As in previous years, new materials formulated for creating crown and bridge, implant, and denture prosthetics were all developed with simplifying and streamlining production efficiencies.