The world is still trying to figure out why every home would need a 3D printer, but in the professional world they continue to thrive. At the International Dental Show currently going on in Germany, Stratasys announced a new 3D printer that uses multiple materials at once to create startlingly realistic dental models in a single print run.
The Objet260 Dental Selection 3D Printer is a lot bigger than the consumer-friendly desktop models sold by companies like MakerBot. But with 16-micron accuracy and a triple-jet system that lets it produce dental models with realistic looking gums, bones, nerves, and teeth, it's designed for use in dental and orthodontic offices that need to be able to test dental appliances without having access to the actual patient.
The material used to 3D print the gingiva—or gums as they're more commonly known—is even soft and pliable like the real thing which allows implants, bridges, and crowns to be tested and refined to ensure they won't actually damage a patient's real tissue when eventually installed. Given the current limitations of 3D printing the new machine can't actually be used to create a false set of teeth for a patient to wear, but given how realistic these models look that doesn't seem like it would be too far off. [Stratasys]