Glidewell, a large American dental lab, has partnered with LuxCreo a dental 3D printer, software, and materials company, to offer a solution for in-office 3D printing. Ostensibly, LuxCreo is an exponent of the chair-side dental revolution, giving dentists a chance to 3D print partials, intermediates and aligners in their offices. Meanwhile, Glidewell is a service that operates over 400 3D printers in its facilities to send parts to dentists and labs.
In this case, the companies have launched fastprint.io, a bundle made up of a 3D printer, wash and cure station, and softwarefor in-office use. Clients can rely on resins developed by Glidewell for night guards and models, while using LuxCreo resins for crowns, retainers, and same-day clear aligners. These can all be printed on the cobranded 3D printer and software solution, which starts at $16,990 but can also be augmented with mills and 3D scanners. The companies also tout reduced post-processing when compared to other machines.
“LuxCreo is proud to partner with Glidewell to seamlessly deliver our latest end-to-end 3D printing solution that expands same-day chairside production to more dental applications. LuxCreo is focused on developing and delivering innovative 3D printing technologies, like Digital Polishing, that provide an exceptional patient experience with faster, more accurate automated workflows,” said LuxCreo chief revenue officer Michael Strohecker.
“Clinicians are looking for simplified, low-labor workflows. That’s why we’re committed to delivering products that are user-friendly, affordably priced and backed by manufacturer-direct support. With LuxCreo’s mission to simplify sustainable production with additive manufacturing, we found a partner who shares our core value of improving the lives of dentists and their patients through digital innovations that make dentistry easier and more effective,” said Robert Brenneise, senior vice president of sales, marketing and education at Glidewell.
“One of our primary goals with glidewell.io is to make digital dentistry more accessible and affordable to dentists everywhere. By adding fastprint.io, we’re building toward a future where every dentist can control their own restorative workflow — bringing value to the practice and patients alike,” Jim Glidewell, founder and president of Glidewell said.
The dental additive manufacturing (AM) market is a fascinating one, with SmarTech Analysis’s recent dental report estimating the segment to be worth $4 billion. We’re seeing a rapid adoption of 3D printing throughout the industry, from lab to dentist. A large number of end-to-end solutions are being created that make 3D printing easy and convenient. Competition is increasingly fierce, as materials companies produce printers, firms are selling hardware-as-a-service, and dentists are performing work that would have previously been done by labs. To me the dental 3D printing industry is an exciting portend of what is to come in 3D printing in general, as the technology becomes embedded in many more industries.
In the case of Glidewell and LuxCreo, it’s kind of as if Snap On wants to sell you a forge so you could make your own hand tools. In any other industry, they would be unlikely bedfellows, but, the movement that is 3D printing in dentistry is reshuffling the value chain so radically that such a partnership makes sense. Both firms can complement each other and strengthen their joint offering while still competing.
The proposition sounds like an attractive one. Dentists are now spoiled for choice with regards to 3D printing solutions. Due to the increased competition in the market, the partnership seems like a wise one for both Glidewell and LuxCreo. Glidewell is a big player in the U.S. dental AM market and LuxCreo is an emerging player with exciting technology. Both could do well on their own, but they are mere minnows when compared to firms such as Swiss giant Straumann and U.S.-based Dentsply Sirona, which has between $2.2 and $3 billion in revenue. Retailers and distributors such as Henry Schein have a lot of market power, as well, with close to $10 billion in revenue alone.
It is nice to be a swift and spry firm, but being small surrounded by giants makes you wonder about their intentions and capabilities as their long shadows constantly interrupt your thoughts. Together, both companies have access to a lot of Glidewell customers and can head off competition in chair-side dental. Lower cost 3D printers from China will enter the market and more integrated solutions will emerge, as well. If this is a solid partnership, it could really expand the markets of both businesses considerably and strengthen their offerings.