Direct 3D-printing of clear aligners by Align Technology

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3D-printing acquisition may help Align Technology to break the mould

Align Technology hopes that its new investment in direct 3D printing technology will allow it to print clear aligner trays without the use of moulds. (Image: Dental Pro Content/Shutterstock)

SAN JOSE, Calif., US: Align Technology has completed its acquisition of Cubicure, a polymer specialist and pioneer of direct 3D-printing technology based in Austria. Align uses 3D printing to create the moulds for bespoke Invisalign trays, and the company intends that the addition of Cubicure’s cutting-edge technology will allow it to print clear aligners directly, improving the efficiency and sustainability of the therapy.

Cubicure owns patents relating to Hot Lithography technology, and an Align press release explained that it uses high-precision 3D-printing processes based on a heating and coating mechanism to produce strong, temperature-resistant polymers from highly viscous resins. The addition of Cubicure’s technology to Align’s manufacturing processes is intended to support its plans for extending and scaling its printing, materials and manufacturing capabilities.

“The acquisition of Cubicure brings a talented team and unique cutting-edge technology into Align and will enable us to scale our 3D-printing operations to eventually direct-print millions of custom appliances per day,” Align Technology President and CEO Joseph Hogan commented in the press release.

Hogan added: “I am excited to take this important step in our relationship with Cubicure, which began several years ago as a joint development programme.”

“We’re at the beginning of this next wave of direct 3D-printing additive manufacturing and I believe we’re poised to transform the orthodontic industry again with our unprecedented ability to direct-print devices,” commented Srini Kaza, senior vice president of product research and development at Align.

Align received US Food and Drug Administration clearance in December for its first directly 3D-printed orthodontic device, the Invisalign Palatal Expander System, which addresses skeletal and dental expansion in younger patients.

First announced in September last year, the acquisition of Cubicure was valued at approximately €79 million and was completed on 2 January, subject to final closing adjustments.

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