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3D Printing Aids Align Technology In Reaching $1.3 Billion In Sales

Forbes reports on a massive sales boon by Align Technology, a dental giant, which manufactures clear aligners.  Align Technology has dubbed these aesthetically pleasing alternatives to braces as “Invisaligns.”

This past year alone, Align Technology reports a staggering $1.3 Billion in sales, with a $15 Billion market cap.  Much of their success is due to the fleet of 3D printers they use in order to create custom Invisaligns.  Align Technology’s factory includes anywhere from 50 to 60 high end 3D printers.  The dental giant utilizes stereolithographic 3D printers from 3D printing giant 3D Systems.  “It is one of the biggest, if not the largest, [factories] dedicated to 3D printing production spaces in existence today.”

In fact, Align Technology “produces over 220,000 clear aligners per day, almost 8 million per year.  To clarify – Align is not creating 220,000 standard products a day, but 220,000 custom-made products each day.  Each clear aligner is completely different from the one lying next ot it on the printer platform.”  This is truly the most impressive part of Align Technology’s manufacturing process.

Not only are these Invisaligns custom-made, they aren’t even created from mere plastic either.  They are 3D printed from “an advanced, medical-grade, FDA-approved polymer.”  Align Technology’s Vice President of Product Innovation Srini Kaza explains the company’s focus on materials science: “one key area where the field is rapidly progressing is the development of highly innovative materials.  Early materials could be brittle but today’s polymers have improved by leaps and bounds.  These new emerging material formulations will even surpass the quality we are seeing now, enabling the industry to print more functional and biocompatible parts directly in the printers.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Forbes Magazine

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