How to Set Supports for Dental 3D Models

Written by Chanda Lalwani

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Posted on June 02 2021

3D printing has given rise to a wide variety of applications, including dental 3D printing, which is projected to grow by roughly 30% by 2025. Dental 3D printing allows dentists and lab technicians to print out different types of dental models such as crowns at much faster speed than previously possible. To learn more about what types of dental 3D printers Phrozen currently offers, please click here.

As there are numerous types of dental models, these require different types of support settings so that the dental models can be printed out flawlessly. Some dental models may not require any supports at all. Setting supports on any 3D model, especially dental models, are extremely important as it anchors your models to the building plate and ensures a higher 3D printing success rate.

To learn more about what the different support settings on CHITUBOX mean, please click here.

What's the Process of 3D Printing Dental Models?

So, how exactly are dental models created?

First, the dentist needs to scan the patient’s teeth with an intraoral scanner instead of collecting a physical impression of their teeth.

Next, data collected from the scanner will be imported into dental software such as Exocad where teeth can be designed, after which the file can be imported into Formware so that it can be sliced. 

Lastly, relevant supports need to be added to your dental models before being sliced and printed out. We’ll be looking at four different types of dental models and the supports they require:

Dental Model Supports

Dental arches can be printed horizontally by being placed flat on the plate while using slicer software. This is typically the fastest way to print dental models but it takes up the most space on the building plate.

In the example above, the Sonic 4K can print out 3 dental arches in one go without the need for any supports. This way, the printing process will take roughly 1.5 hours. 

If a dental professional wants to increase their productivity, then they can tilt their dental arches and add vertical supports such as in the photo above, and ensure that the incisors are at the highest point. In the example above, 5 dental arches can be printed in one go with the Sonic 4K, though the printing time will be longer. It will take roughly 3~4 hours for the prints to be complete.

Dental Models & Crowns Supports

Let’s take this other dental model as an example. This type of dental model is typically used to check the fit of a dental crown. After the fit has been adjusted properly, the patient is informed so that their crown can be installed.

As the inside portion of the dental model is hollow, we add a raft to the bottom, lower the dental model and set the height at 0.00 mm. Add supports to the inside of the dental arch so that it is hidden and doesn’t affect the top portion of the dental arch, which is the most important part of the dental model.

Then add two or more holes that are 3.0 mm in size. This will be used for draining excess resin during the printing process. This is because if resin is trapped inside during the printing process, this may cause deformation to the dental print as additional force will be exerted onto the dental model as it is being printed.

For dental parts and pieces such as dental crowns, it will need to be tilted before adding supports.

Make sure that the crown itself is facing downwards, towards the plate. Supports should be added to the outer part of the crown. Supports cannot touch the inside part of the crown as this part will be directly attached to the teeth. 

Raise the crown by roughly 5.5 mm to 6.0 mm and add supports that are 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm in tip size.


Dental Bridges Supports

Dental bridges require specific supports as well. Raise the model at a slight angle and add a raft to the bottom of the dental model.

Then add auto-supports. When adding supports to the dental part, make sure to avoid key areas such as the teeth itself. Make sure to turn the model and add extra supports so that it is attached correctly to the building plate.

You can also use the flatten by face function on CHITUBOX to bring the dental model as close to the surface as possible. Click Rotate and choose Flatten by face

This is to ensure a perfect fit, and no distortion, after the dental model has been printed out.

Surgical Guide with Sleeves (or Pinhole)

Surgical guides are extremely important for dental surgery. So while we’re setting the supports, we need to avoid crucial areas, such as the middle circle, and the inside of the middle circle. This is to prevent sensitive areas, such as the diameter of the circle, from changing in size while printing.

We start by turning the model around and adding auto-supports on CHITUBOX. Then we proceed to remove all the supports that are on the middle circle. Manually add supports that are 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm in tip size on the outer part of the circle, not the inner part of the circle.

This way, the circle stays intact and doesn’t change in shape as it is made to fit perfectly over the patient’s teeth.

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