The 3D printing craze is huge, and it’s not going away anytime soon. The industry surpassed a net worth of $5.1 billion last year and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. With the ability to create almost anything you can think of (within reason), one man took creativity to a whole new level and made himself some 3D printed braces for just $60. We wish we were kidding.
It goes without saying that you should probably not try this at home. Messing with your own orthodontia is not only medieval, but could have extremely bad results—like your teeth falling out or permanent gum disfigurement. Somehow, this guy managed to escape both of those pitfalls with his DIY Invisalign, however, and that’s why you’re reading this. Although you’d probably still be reading it if all his teeth fell out.
The budding orthodontist in question is Amos Dudley, an undergraduate and digital design major at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He had braces back in middle school but, like many people, failed to use his retainer. As a result, his teeth shifted back into crookedness over time and he was not happy about it. He posted this photo of his crooked teeth to his blog, chronicling his orthodontic experiments:
Trying To Save Money
Unwilling to pay thousands for a second round of braces, Dudley elected to make his own. Chronicling his experiences on on his blog, he wrote about his unique situation. Though he was broke, he had nearly unlimited access to a top-of-the-line 3D printer through his school.
Dudley started the process off by taking a mold of his teeth with “some cheap alginate powder, Permastone, and a 3d printed impression tray, to get a better picture of what was really going on,” he wrote on his blog.
Upon researching what he calls a “name brand clear-aligner technique,” he noticed that the retainer looked an awful lot like it had been 3D printed. So what was to stop him from doing the same thing?
Using massive amounts of research into orthodontic procedures to plan out the successive braces (they would change as his teeth changed), he actually managed to pull it off. His teeth moved the right way, his smile was aligned and now he’s an internet sensation:
3D Retainer For Life
“I’ve been wearing them all day and all night for 16 weeks, only taking them out to eat,” Dudley wrote. “I’m planning on fabricating a bunch of retainers for the current position, which I can use — til I die — at night.”
Clearly, he doesn’t want to risk having to go through the whole laborious process again, though there are a number of additional benefits to his experiment, including:
“Perfectly fitting whitening trays, when trimmed down a tiny bit,” he writes. “They’re also fantastic night guards — they’ve been protecting my teeth from nighttime grinding, without being bulky.”
And before you ask, no, he will not make you your own set of 3D printed braces. Go to the dentist like any normal person would. Smile!