Produce Aligner and Retainer Models 120% Faster With Fast Arch Printing


Formlabs Dental has released Fast Arch Printing, new print settings for producing dental arches used to make thermoformed appliances such as aligners and retainers. Dentists and orthodontists will see dramatically reduced print times, enabling quicker workflows and improving their ability to deliver amazing patient experience while running an efficient business.

With Fast Arch Printing, dentists and orthodontists no longer need to choose between quality and speed. Form 3/B/+ printers now 3D print an arch faster than most DLP printers, enabling faster delivery of high-quality aligners. In some cases, Fast Arch Printing will empower dentists to deliver retainers and aligners chairside.

Fast Arch Printing, available now for Draft Resin and Grey Resin, improves print times by up to 120%. A single arch printed in Draft V2 resin at 200 microns takes just 8 minutes.

“I scanned my [child] son for a retainer, designed the models, and used Fast Arch Printing to print two models in 10 minutes,” says Dr. Christopher Baer, who owns and runs Baer Dental in Lone Tree, CO.

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Delivering Retainers Chairside Is Now Possible

Fast Arch Printing cuts down on print time, accelerating a key step in Formlabs’ end-to-end workflow support and powering practice efficiency. Combined with Formlabs innovations such as the Scan to Model feature in Preform Dental and Fast Cure, Fast Arch Printing enables dentists to have a finished retainer in less than half an hour after they begin scanning.

At Alvetro Orthodontics in Sidney, OH, Dr. Lisa Alvetro uses Fast Arch Printing and the Form Auto to maximize efficiency in the aligner and retainer workflow. “Fast Arch Printing is a viable option to decrease print time and increase productivity when using Form Auto,” says Dr. Alvetro, “while still keeping the high quality."

“The Fast Cure already cut cure time to 1 minute. Now [Fast Arch Printing] allows me to produce an upper and lower retainer from scan to completion — including the washing and curing as well as the suck down and trimming — in less than 30 minutes.”

Dr. Christopher Baer, DMD, Baer Dental

Workflow Time For Producing a Clear Aligner or Retainer

SolutionsScanDesignPrintWashCureFinishTotal Time
Form 3B+, Default Settings, and Form Cure5 min1 min*19 min10 min5 min5 min44 min
Form 3B+, Fast Arch Settings, and Fast Cure5 min1 min*8 min10 min1 min5 min30 min
Form 3B+, Fast Arch Settings, Ultrasonic Wash, and Fast Cure5 min1 min*8 min2 min **1 min5 min22 min

* With Scan to Model in PreForm Dental. 
** Washing efficacy depends on the ultrasonic unit size and power. Formlabs testing was conducted with ultrasonic units at 36 W/L or higher.

For an even faster total workflow time, Formlabs has now validated ultrasonic washing for dental applications to reduce post processing time. Printed parts can now be washed up to 95% faster using an ultrasonic wash. For further details check out our manufacturing guides.

3D printed dental aligner model

Draft Resin printed at 200 microns offers the fastest print times, making it ideal for thermoformed appliances or wax-ups.

3D printed dental aligner model

Draft Resin printed at 100 microns offers the highest accuracy and least layer lines for highly aesthetic premium aligners and general dental models.

Fast Arch Printing has been optimized specifically to the geometrical shape of a dental arch to strike a perfect balance between print speed and part quality. It is intended for use with general dental models, printing arches for thermoformed appliances such as retainers and aligners, and for models used with a wax-up. At the 200 micron layer height, which offers the fastest print times, the new settings should be used to make models for thermoformed appliances or wax-ups only.

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Faster and More Accurate Than the Competition

Existing Formlabs users will be able to reduce turnaround time and increase printer productivity. For dentists and dental labs considering which 3D printer to buy, Fast Arch Printing may meaningfully impact their decision.

Dental professionals looking to incorporate 3D printing into their digital workflow have typically needed to decide between two technologies: digital light processing (DLP) printers such as the SprintRay Pro or stereolithography (SLA) printers such as the Formlabs Form 3B+. While SLA printers usually deliver higher accuracy, smoother surface finish, and greater ease of use, DLP printers were often associated with faster printing — a key differentiator for a chairside dentist who needs to print 1-2 arches in order to provide a patient with a retainer or other simple appliance.

Now dentists and orthodontists no longer need to worry about a tradeoff. 

In tests, Form 3+ and 3B+ users deploying the Fast Arch Printing printed one arch in 8 minutes and two arches in 13 minutes at the 200 micron layer height. At the 100 micron layer height, which affords a better surface finish, one arch took 24 minutes. For comparison, the SprintRay Pro’s Ludicrous Mode, which prints at 170 micron layer height, prints one arch in 22 minutes.

Print Times For Dental Arches

ResinLayer heightSettingPrint Time (1 Arch)*Print Time (2 Arches)*Print Time (8 Arches)*
Formlabs Draft Resin200 micronsDefault19 min23 min44 min
Formlabs Draft Resin200 micronsFast8 min13 min24 min
SprintRay Die and Model 2 (Gray)170 micronsLudicrous Mode22 min22 min44 min**
Formlabs Draft Resin100 micronsDefault27 min32 min1 hr 1 min
Formlabs Draft Resin100 micronsFast21 min23 min46 min

*Time reported is the actual print time from print start to completion and does not include any pre-print steps.
**SprintRay Build Platform can only fit 6 arches. 2 prints are necessary.

3D printed dental aligner models

Aligner models 3D printed in Draft Resin at 100 microns using the default settings (left) and Fast Arch Printing (right).

Additionally, Fast Arch Printing does not sacrifice accuracy. In fact, at the 100 microns layer height, arches printed with the new faster settings actually showed slight increases in accuracy. When printed with Fast Arch Printing, 99.9% of a horseshoe model was shown to be within +/- 200 microns of the scan.

Accuracy Comparison of 3D Printed Dental Arches

ResinLayer heightSetting+/- 200um+/- 150um+/- 100um+/- 50um
Formlabs Draft Resin200 micronsDefault97.394.284.256.4
Formlabs Draft Resin200 micronsFast95.290.777.950.5
SprintRay Die and Model 2 (Gray)170 micronsLudicrous Mode99.2N/A87.656.1
Formlabs Draft Resin100 micronsDefault99.197.791.665.1
Formlabs Draft Resin100 micronsFast99.999.193.966.8

Form 3B+ With Form Auto = In House Manufacturing Powerhouse

While Fast Arch Printing is likely to make the biggest impact for the chairside dentist, they will provide a boost for production-level practices and labs too. 

One Form 3+ or 3B+ can now produce 330 arches at 200 microns layer height or 200 arches at 100 microns layer height within 24 hours when used together with the Form Auto. 

Dr. Lisa Alvetro believes that Fast Arch Printing and the Form Auto can work together to drive efficiency. Alvetro Orthodontics had already been using the Form Auto when they incorporated Fast Arch Printing into their workflow. “The Draft 0.100 mm Fast Arch settings were successfully integrated into our current Form Auto workflow,” Dr. Alvetro says. “The fit of the thermoformed appliance was similar to the fit of Model V3 Resin with our current settings.”

Dental labs producing models at scale and orthodontists who manufacture their own aligners, for example, can now increase their throughput without compromising on quality. For these users, Fast Arch Printing joins Formlabs innovations like Fast Cure as well as other elements of the Formlabs Automation Ecosystem such as the Form Auto, Fleet Control, and the High Volume Resin System to deliver production-level output with SLA quality — and, true to Formlabs’ reputation, at a fraction of the typical cost. 

Hundreds of 3D printed aligner models

With Form Auto, one Form 3+ or 3B+ can now produce up to 330 arches at 200 microns layer height within 24 hours.

By focusing on ease of use and creating products like PreForm Dental Scan to Model and the Automation Ecosystem, Formlabs has developed a suite of tools to support dental professionals throughout the entire workflow. With the release of Fast Arch Printing, Formlabs demonstrates that printer performance will never stop improving either.

Start 3D Printing Dental Arches Fast

The new settings are now available in PreForm for dentists and orthodontists using the Form 3, Form 3+, Form 3B, and Form 3B+. Update your PreForm to the latest version and begin by creating a custom preset to make Fast Arch Printing the norm. Then leverage the settings and watch your print times go down!

Watch the video above or read our written instructions for the detailed workflow. Have any questions? Reaching out to the Dental Service Plan team.