Add oral appliances to the list of new uses for the so-called “3-D printer.” The new manufacturing process applied to the familiar item comes courtesy of Australian dental company Oventus and researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
According to reports, the two entities collaborated to come up with a customized mouthpiece to treat sleep apnea. “When Oventus came to CSIRO with this idea, we were really excited. The possibilities of 3D printing are endless and the fact that we can now design and print a completely customized mouthpiece for patients is revolutionary,” said John Barnes, CSIRO’s 3D printing expert.
Reporter Samantha Olson writes that the invention of 3D printing has opened doors for many new inventions and process simplifications, and works by laying down thin layers of a material until it builds into a three-dimensional solid object. The machine bases the process off of a specific digital design, which Oventus CEO Neil Anderson believes was the key to their new 3D treatment.
“The finished product is printed from titanium and coated with a medial grade plastic, which looks much like a retainer,” writes Olson. “It extends from the user’s mouth like a whistle and divides up separate airways in order to channel airflow into the back of the throat. The air will be directed around the obstructive nose and partial throat collapse, to where it can travel down the trachea and avoid the nightly sleep apnea choking.”
“This new device is tailored to an individual’s mouth using a 3D scan and is used only on the top teeth which make it more compact and far more comfortable,” said Anderson in the article.