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Additive manufacturing of monolithic zirconia for dental restorations

The current production of tooth restorations in zirconia involves classic CAD/CAM milling of pre-sintered zirconia blocks, which wastes material, introduces machining defects and limits the potential for individual aesthetic characterization unless the zirconia core is veneered with porcelain. During clinical functioning the latter bi-layered structure unfortunately results too often in chipping defects. Additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D-printing (formerly known as ‘rapid prototyping’), enables to produce complex 3D-objects directly from a digital model, while addressing an optimized use of material and possibility for mass customization. This project aims at developing innovative ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING technology using ceramic stereolithography to fabricate dental zirconia restorations. The layer-wise assembling of components from CAD data in combination with a single thermal cycle should ultimately allow the fabrication of monolithic restorations with a gradient translucency/colouration, similar as that of natural teeth. This project involves research on advanced monolithic zirconia with regard to its mechanical strength and ageing resistance, its 3D-printing capability, as well as its clinical applicability. Such innovative 3D-printing of dental zirconia will greatly contribute to the further digitalization of dental restorative procedures. Along with the benefit that monolithic restorations solve the clinical issue of porcelain chipping, we aim to explore the capability of ceramic stereolithography to produce dental zirconia restorations that combine excellent mechanical properties and hydrothermal aging resistance with great individual characterization potential and a high geometrical precision in terms of marginal/internal fit to the tooth preparation. If successful, 3D-printing of individualized dental implant abutments and implants is targeted in a next stage.
Date:1 Oct 2017 →  30 Sep 2021