US-based medical device company Align Technology has entered into a partnership with additive manufacturing technologies firm Desktop Metal to supply its iTero Element Flex intraoral scanners to the latter’s Desktop Labs.

The firms agreed to make iTero Element Flex as the preferred restorative scanner for Desktop Labs, which is a lab network in the US that serves general dentists.

The iTero Element Flex intraoral scanner will help Desktop Labs connect general dentist locations with its network of full-service labs.

According to Align Technology, the iTero Element Flex intraoral scanner gives clinicians with more freedom and mobility to treat patients. The wand-only configuration of the scanner is said to enable them to complete full arch scans in even the tiniest of offices.

The firm said that the vibrant colour scanning and visualisation make clinical evaluations faster and improve chairside consultations with patients. It can also send restorative STL files directly to the lab or export them from the iTero cloud to help doctors to work in a more efficient manner with dental labs.

Align Technology president and CEO Joe Hogan said: “We see great potential in enabling dentists to scan patients and then use the scan data to directly order restorative services or print-ready digital files from Desktop Labs that can be 3D printed in their offices.

“In addition to iTero scanners, we’re also excited about extending the benefits of the Align Digital Platform, including the Invisalign system and exocad software, to Desktop Labs customers.”

Desktop Labs offers GP dentists digital design and manufacturing solutions using a variety of technologies such as Desktop Health 3D printers and materials.

The Desktop Metal subsidiary is said to employ Einstein 3D printers and Flexcera Class 2 materials for fabricating permanent dental restorations. Desktop Health is also a subsidiary of Desktop Metal.

Desktop Metal founder and CEO Ric Fulop said: “We expect all restorative components to move to digital manufacturing within the next decade, enabled by better material properties and an improved fit, as well as expansion of insurance coverage to digital solutions.

“Offerings such as Desktop Health’s Flexcera resins are just the beginning of the innovations being enabled by rapid, customised mass production through premium 3D printing tools such as the Desktop Health Einstein printer.”