Designer (successfully) 3D prints his own invisible braces

While you're patting yourself on the back for 3D printing a replacement battery cover for your TV remote, one design has proudly shown off his new smile, one made straight via a series of teeth-straightening invisible braces he created himself using a 3D printer. The end result is as successful as anyone could hope for, which is to say he's now the proud owner of perfectly aligned teeth. The orthodontic world shudders.

The 3D printed braces were made by Amos Dudley, a 23-year-old design student. He recently detailed his successful foray into do-it-yourself dentistry on his blog, where he shows the before and after picture you see below, as well as shots of the various braces and bits of technology that led from the before to the after picture.

The motivation for the project was, as you've probably guessed, financial in nature — braces are expensive, and design students don't usually have a lot of money to throw around. As well, Dudley had access to the equipment needed for creating and printing the braces. Unlike wire braces, these are 'invisible' braces, meaning they're clear caps of sorts that fit over the teeth, slowly shifting them into position. Several aligners are needed for the entire transition, each a little different than the last.

First a mold of his teeth were made using Permastone, an inexpensive alginate powder. A couple orthodontic reference guides were used for instruction. The molds were used to make casts of his teeth, and that cast was then scanned and turned into a 3D model. From there, the digital teeth were transformed from their present state into the final state, with a physical model being printed showing the teeth moving in increments.

Those incremental molds were then used to print the actual clear braces, which were then cut out, sanded down, and ready to be used. The final result was a successful tooth alignment, which took 16 weeks to achieve when worn near-constantly.

Of course, at-home DIY orthodontics can be very risky, and so anyone considering using their 3D printer to create their own aligners would be well advised to, at the very least, consult with an orthodontist first (who will probably tell you that you're crazy).