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Cutting-Edge Engineering Technology for Laser Machining of Zirconia Ceramic in Dental Applications

Nick Weston, Manager of Renishaw Edinburgh stated “Renishaw has gained significant benefit from working with The James Watt Institute which has led to the formation of a strategic alliance with Heriot-Watt University”

The development and introduction of materials such as ceramics in dentistry now provides patients with a viable alternative to amalgams and the use of non-precious metals. Yttria-stabilized Zirconia is a particularly tough engineering ceramic. This property makes it desirable for a wide range of industrial and medical applications including bone, tooth and joint implants, however it also makes the material very difficult to machine in its final state.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are already experiencing the fastest growth in any area of dentistry, revolutionising restorative dentistry, bringing a new level of productivity and profitability to the production of crowns and bridges.

Having established itself as the world’s leading provider of in-lab scanning systems in recent years, Renishaw has now applied this cutting-edge engineering technology to its incise™ dental CAD/CAM system, which combines high-speed 3D scanning capabilities, powerful software and a new milling machine to allow the manufacture of high quality zirconia crowns and bridges.

Currently in dentistry, zirconia ceramic is processed by mechanical means making this an extremely slow procedure, typically requiring 3-6 hours of diamond grinding to manufacture a single tooth crown. Alternative methods of ceramic manufacturing are therefore required to reduce cost and improve performance.

Collaborating with Renishaw Ltd, Duncan Hand at the James Watt Institute for High Value Manufacturing led a team to apply laser-based manufacturing processes to the production of dental products.

The project led to the development of a laser machining processes capable of high speed cutting of ceramic components (up to 13 mm thick), followed by fine-scale finishing removing surface cracks. The machined parts meet the strength requirements of dental restorations, and machining time is significantly reduced to approx 1 hour.

For more information contact:

Duncan Hand
0131 451 3020
Designed by Evolution Design