Founded in 2008, Norland Industrial (Norland) is a large scale multinational industrial group which is involved in the health and medical cosmetology industries. Initially concentrating on China, the business has expanded to have presence in 43 countries.
The head office in China’s Chaoyang district is at the forefront of dental veneer production. It specialise in porcelain or ceramic veneers (sometimes called dental porcelain laminate), custom-made ceramic shells designed to be placed over teeth to improve their appearance.
Being at the forefront of this industry, the Norland team understands the importance of investing in the latest technologies and techniques to ensure the highest quality products for its customers and keep ahead of the competition.
Why consider 3D printing?
Dentists and labs world-wide are discovering the value of 3D printing and the advantages that 3D technology brings in terms of both improved productivity and the quality of the finished appliances.
Norland previously invested in CNC technology to produce its ceramic veneers. This computer controlled manufacturing resulted in accurate, thin veneers milled from materials such as the feldspathic porcelain blocks. This produced acceptable results, and allowed for the small scale mass production of custom veneers. CNC however is a slow process that produces a lot of wastage. Additionally the machines require frequent maintenance and replacement burs, which are an accepted sacrificial component.
Newer techniques such as 3D printing do not have these same limitations. They are also superior in terms of speed and the quality of the results produced.
The Norland team understood that 3D printing was paramount to staying ahead of the competition and providing customers with consistent quality.
The team looked at a number of competitive products. These included offerings from FormLabs, Rapidshape and a number of local Chinese brands. Both SLA (Laser) and DLP (projector) solutions were examined. Together with the 3D printers, Norland also required a tough resilient material that would mimic the characteristics of porcelain/ceramic.
In terms of printers, none of the competitors provided either the ease of use, speed or accuracy required. Additionally, though the selection of materials were similar to EnvisionTEC’s E-Dent, it was considered to produce a far better result.
“Though some of the other manufacturers had similar materials to E-Dent, the EnvisionTEC material was superior.“
- Dr. Jin. The Chief Scientist in new material development, Norland
After consideration, the team at Norland settled on an EnvisionTEC Perfactory 4 Mini with E-Dent material. This combination provided an unbeatable solution, with the P4 Mini allowing them to produce over a 100 veneers in 1.5 hours. Each piece highly accurate with exceptional surface quality. The machine can even be run day and night, the team having the confidence that they will return the next day to a full print.
Norland is currently in the process of gaining CFDA approval for its veneers. This will approve them for use across China and will become a game changer for the veneer business. As the machine is running around the clock in the production of veneers for its customers, there may come a time when they need to move to an even larger machine to keep up with demand.
“We are lucky to be in partnership with EnvisionTEC in this field (Veneers). We believe it will become one of the biggest markets for 3D Printing as well as within dentistry.” - Dr. Jin. The Chief Scientist in new material development, Norland