Over the last few decades, multiple industries have found groundbreaking applications for CAD drafting and other computer-aided design tools. Recently, CAD and 3D printing have been making an impact on both the world of museums and on what happens when we visit the dentist.
Australian Institute Seeks to Preserve Museum Specimens
Australian man Bill Holden has founded an organization called Thylascan, which has given itself the task of preserving the structures of endangered and extinct animals through the use of 3D printing. The institute takes scans of the fossils and other remains of threatened or extinct animals, and then creates replicas of them. According to Holden, his mission is to give modern people a chance to come in contact with and appreciate animals that they otherwise would not be able to experience.
Thylascan is currently working with Museum Victoria, the UK software company Simpleware, and the 3D printing firm 3D Systems Asia Pacific. Together, they are creating a collection of 3D printed animal and insect replicas, using a combination of computed tomography scans, MRI, CT, and micro-CT scans to capture images that can then be converted into CAD models. Simpleware then uses those CAD models to produce anatomically correct models of the animal’s bone and body structures.
In addition to the 3D models, Thylascan’s replicas also include holograms, two-dimensional prints, and t-shirts. Holden also makes sure that his replicas can be customized and scaled according to the environments that they will be displayed in.
Dentists Use 3D Scanners to Improve Tooth Restorations
Anyone who has ever been fitted for a dental crown knows what a miserable experience it can be. Not only is the process uncomfortable, it can also take weeks for the permanent crown to be produced, and it requires multiple visits to the dentist to finally be fitted. Thanks to innovations in video scanning and 3D printing, however, dentists are currently making the experience of being fitted with a crown less of a hassle.
The traditional method of creating a crown involved taking a mold of the patient’s teeth with gooey paste, and then forming a cap from materials like gold, porcelain, or ceramic based on that mold. But some dentists are now using a new process that significantly speeds up the process of creating and installing a crown, reducing wait time from weeks to hours. This new method involves taking scans of a patient’s teeth with a scanning wand, which converts the image into a computer model. Using an on-site milling machine, the dentist then creates a lithium disilicate crown based on the computer model of a patient’s teeth, making a crown perfectly fitted to the patient’s mouth in a fraction of the time.
The use of this process not only makes the experience of visiting the dentist less uncomfortable, it also makes it more convenient and affordable. For many people, having to take off multiple days for a single dental procedure can be difficult, or even unaffordable. By shortening the time that it takes for dental procedures to be completed, CAD-driven dentistry has the potential of making dental care more accessible for low-income people.
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