A look behind the scenes of the development of a 3D printer: PrograPrint beta test in the dental laboratory
We want to incorporate the know-how of external experts into the development of our products. This is why we are keen to involve dental technicians working in commercial laboratories in our product design projects. Read the third part in our series of articles on the development of the PrograPrint system to find out about the implementation and result of the beta test.
Why are beta tests conducted in development projects?
A large team of dental technicians, engineers and materials scientists worked closely together on the PrograPrint development project over several years. The result is a product designed and created in accordance with market-specific and regulatory requirements. What are referred to as alpha and beta tests were conducted in the course of the development phase to make sure that users would be satisfied with the end product and that they would not be plagued with a host of application problems.
Both tests aim to identify and eliminate, or minimize, sources of error that could emerge in real-world applications. Test users can forward their experience back to the developers so that their feedback can be integrated into the ongoing development of the product. We use in-house employees who are not directly involved in the development of a product as alpha testers. By contrast, beta testing is carried out by dental technicians who work in commercial laboratories. They put the product that is being developed through its paces. During the test phase, the dental technicians are in direct contact with the developers in order to report back any errors straight away and provide feedback on new solutions.
Who was beta testing the PrograPrint systems?
Select dental laboratories in Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the USA were provided with a prototype of the PrograPrint system to test it in real-world user situations. Test users were independent qualified dental technicians with extensive experience in CAD/CAM applications. This ensured that basic properties and functions of the PrograPrint system were critically examined and evaluated in relation to the requirements of dental laboratories. The testers centred their attention on the operation, material handling and precision of the printer. Some of them had already been using 3D printers for dental applications and were able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our system in comparison with other systems. Testers without 3D printing experience provided us with insightful feedback on the integration of the PrograPrint system into the dental workflows. Over a period of ten months, a total of eight test laboratories accompanied the development in the beta testing phase and influenced its design with their feedback.
Digital dentistry and dental technology: The dental world in transition
What were the findings of the PrograPrint beta test?
The beta test assisted us in improving the PrograPrint system even further and in fine-tuning it to the requirements of dental laboratories. At the end, all the test users were in agreement in pointing out the following findings: the PrograPrint PR5 impresses with both its uncompromising precision across the entire build platform and its clean and contactless procedure to handle resin materials. The devices for cleaning and post-curing are easy to use and deliver fast results. The 3D printing materials complete the workflow and provide high-precision printed parts.
The validated workflow of the PrograPrint system offers a decisive advantage: all the components required for the printing process are optimally coordinated with each other. This means that users can achieve reliable results right from the first time, whether it be for printing models, splints or burn-out parts. They do not have to run their own time-consuming application tests. Instead, they can rely on pre-defined and validated process parameters.
The PrograPrint system is therefore ideally suited for dental laboratories looking for an easy entry into 3D printing. The printer is also ideal for experienced laboratories that place high expectations on the printed parts they produce.
«PrograPrint is simply amazing. I get very precise results which do not require any reworking. Moreover, the printed models feature a great colour. Finally, my digital workflow is complete.»
- Dominique Vinci, Switzerland
«PrograPrint impressed me with the high precision of its printing results. Especially the fit of models with dies is remarkable. The handling of the system is really easy and straightforward – it simply works.»
- Lee Culp, USA
What happens after the beta test?
The beta testing phase was successfully completed and documented and the PrograPrint system has been approved for sale. The user base has been extended to include dental technicians around the globe. Even after the product launch, our development team continues to work on further enhancements and new materials to optimize and extend the digital workflow in the dental laboratory.
Elsewhere in this series of articles you can read an Interview on the background of 3D printing and obtain fascinating Insights into the development and production of the PrograPrint system.