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3D printed LaserPFM™ is an ideal alternative to cast or machined semi-precious or non-precious crown and bridge frameworks.

Renishaw's LaserPFM frameworks are 3D printed on our own additive manufacturing machine - the Renishaw AM250. In the case of LaserAbutments, the detailed implant interfaces are then machined on a high precision milling machine, preserving the accuracy and passivity of fit.

The benefits of 3D printed frameworks

3D printing is an ideal way of producing complex and intricate geometry that is impossible to achieve by milling.

Closer replication of features

Impant bridge banner image

Modern 5-axis CNC machines are capable of positioning tools into many tight locations, but there are still features which cannot be accessed by these tools.  This isn't the only concern; a feature must have enough strength and rigidity to resist the forces of a milling tool.  Failure to account for this can lead to poor quality surfaces, or even damage to the bridge or abutment.  These factors may limit the manufacturing of the technician's design to something that only closely resembles what is required, rather than accurately reproducing it.  Most often this will lead to manual finishing of the framework.

No internal stresses

Milled bridge and abutment structures generally deliver superior accuracy over their cast predecessors. “Milled from a solid block” is a phrase regularly used to imply accuracy and durability in the dental implant industry. However, this technique no longer represents the state of the art, especially when it comes to accuracy. 

Most metal blanks carry internal stresses which are left over from their own manufacturing processes. When a complex, multi-unit bridge is cut out of such a block, these internal stresses are sometimes enough to cause macroscopic distortion in the framework. This is because, while the block may have been stiff enough to resist bending under these forces, the much smaller bridge framework might not be.

Lower cost and waste

Even in cases where the design can be milled, the issue of tool access can cause a high degree of material waste.  When a tool is positioned on a bridge to mill it, it must have already removed enough material to prevent any collisions.

With relatively expensive dental materials, this incurs cost which simply isn't there with a 3D printed solution.  The amount of this waste is also difficult to predict, meaning that manufacturers may increase costs to cover the worst-case scenario. LaserPFM and LaserAbutments only use as much metal as the volume of the part and supporting structures.

Heat treatment

Renishaw LaserPFM frameworks are heat treated after 3D printing, removing internal stresses in the framework. The result is a stress-free, distortion-free bridge that can be fired many times for veneering purposes without the risk of losing accuracy.

After trying other technologies for metal frameworks, we settled on laser-melted frameworks from Renishaw which gave us superior results. We would now find it impossible to return to full manual casting. The quality and consistency have made a big difference to our business. When surveyed, our dentists gave 100% positive feedback on laser melted frameworks. They indicated they would be disappointed if we returned to old traditional techniques.

CBC dental lab (UK)

Renishaw's high quality custom-made products take the stress out of manufacture in our dental laboratory business; their dedicated team have become an extension of my workforce.

Dencraft Ltd (UK)

How it's made

LaserPFM frameworks are created using 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. The advanced laser melting process builds up each framework in a series of successive layers, less than half the diameter of a human hair.

A high-powered laser beam is focused onto a flat bed of powdered metal (in this case CE marked CoCr) and the selected areas fuse into a thin solid layer. A second layer of powder is then spread over the first, before the laser creates the next ‘slice' of each LaserPFM framework.

When every layer has been built up, the solid frameworks are taken from the machine, grit blasted, polished, inspected and ultrasonically cleaned.

Find out more about metal 3D printing

Front view of build plate in AM250

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