How one broke college student 3D printed his own braces to correct misaligned teeth

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,062   +130
Staff member

One of the criticisms I heard most often in the early days of 3D printing was a lack of practical projects. It's taken a few years but we're finally starting to see some pretty clever and functional 3D printed projects emerge.

Amos Dudley is no different than many college students in the fact that he's broke. He also wasn't blessed with perfectly straight teeth, something he said left him feeling a bit self-conscious. One day while researching brand-name (likely Invisalign) clear orthodontic aligners, he happened upon a picture showing an aligner that appeared to have the same layer striations that 3D printed items exhibit.

Intrigued, Dudley wondered what would stop someone who has access to a 3D printer from making their own aligners. As it turns out, not much at all.

Dudley researched the professional process for creating clear aligners and realized that as an undergrad, he had – or could acquire – everything that was needed so he decided to give it a shot. For the sake of brevity, we'll skip past all of the technical details here which can instead be found on Dudley's blog.

The results speak for themselves. Dudley said he has been wearing the retainers day and night for the past 16 weeks, noting that only the teeth that he desired to move had any sort of noticeable pressure on them. The undergrad said he plans to fabricate a bunch of additional retainers for the current position which he can use in the future to help maintain his now-straight smile.

As an added bonus, Dudley found that the aligners double as perfectly-fitting whitening trays when trimmed down a tiny bit. Furthermore, they can also serve as night guards to protect against teeth grinding while asleep.

All images courtesy Amos Dudley

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misor

Posts: 1,417   +319
I don't believe it unless the subject has just some minor teeth misalignment.

you need an orthodontist or at least a regular dentist to align your teeth thru regular adjustments of the brace.
also, the subject needs to have an exact 'stone' replica of his teeth before he can make 'home-made brace'. without access to a dentist's lab, he could not do what he claimed to have done.
(unless of course, he will now claimed of access to dentist instruments and materials)
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,186
I don't believe it unless the subject has just some minor teeth misalignment.

you need an orthodontist or at least a regular dentist to align your teeth thru regular adjustments of the brace.
also, the subject needs to have an exact 'stone' replica of his teeth before he can make 'home-made brace'. without access to a dentist's lab, he could not do what he claimed to have done.
(unless of course, he will now claimed of access to dentist instruments and materials)

Well you can go to the dentist to get one made for you, not sure how expensive it might be though. It looks cool of course but I doubt he was able to do it by himself, as you said an expert is required to see how much space he has to spare and how to yata yata.

And obviously that's can't be the same smile in just 4 months, at least I don't believe it. The dude had clearly an awful dental hygiene that won't just go away with whitening paste.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
Just looking at the size of the teeth, you can tell these are different mouths. While the realignment will change the position of the teeth, it certainly won't cause them to grow or shrink. We have seen more than a few "created" miracles and the net certainly seems to perpetuate it more and more. I'm just waiting for the flood of "great stock advice" from a bunch of 10 year olds ...... if it hasn't already happened!
 

Teko03

Posts: 621   +329
Just looking at the size of the teeth, you can tell these are different mouths. While the realignment will change the position of the teeth, it certainly won't cause them to grow or shrink. We have seen more than a few "created" miracles and the net certainly seems to perpetuate it more and more. I'm just waiting for the flood of "great stock advice" from a bunch of 10 year olds ...... if it hasn't already happened!

Actually, looking at the lip detail & teeth, it seems to be the same person. You have to take into consideration that 1) The photos are from different angles & 2) The smile is different. That being said, the main tooth that appears to all of sudden be longer, probably looks that way because it's no longer misaligned.
 

ET3D

Posts: 1,754   +400
the subject needs to have an exact 'stone' replica of his teeth before he can make 'home-made brace'. without access to a dentist's lab, he could not do what he claimed to have done.

You'd understand more if you read his blog. Drawing conclusions from writeups is rarely a good thing.

To save you some time though, the materials can be found on eBay, but he used a high cost laser scanner and printer, which he had access to, and not home equipment, and it's not likely that someone could achieve this with a home printer.
 

Camikazi

Posts: 982   +339
the subject needs to have an exact 'stone' replica of his teeth before he can make 'home-made brace'. without access to a dentist's lab, he could not do what he claimed to have done.

You'd understand more if you read his blog. Drawing conclusions from writeups is rarely a good thing.

To save you some time though, the materials can be found on eBay, but he used a high cost laser scanner and printer, which he had access to, and not home equipment, and it's not likely that someone could achieve this with a home printer.
So it's not "How a broke college student did it?" but "how a broke college student who has access to insanely expensive machinery that 99% of others will not did it?"
 

misor

Posts: 1,417   +319
So it's not "How a broke college student did it?" but "how a broke college student who has access to insanely expensive machinery that 99% of others will not did it?"
I thought that was one of the points in going to college.
my mind is swirling.
I am thinking cliffordcooley's post means 'the point of going to college is to get broke' or 'upon going to college, the student became broke'. ;)
 

Dr Dave

Posts: 10   +0
As a dentist who is self treating him self with Invisalign I can tell you its not that easy. First you got to take moulds and scan them into some sort of software that fabricates the aligners. Then your going to have to bond pressure point composite nodules here and there, and even thin contacts between teeth to make room. Not that easy.