At the Rapid 2019 3D printing conference, the company said it will use 49 HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems around the clock to make more than 50,000 unique mouth molds per day. This means it has the capacity to make as many as 20 million individualized 3D-printed mouth molds in the next 12 months.
“SmileDirectClub is digitally transforming the traditional orthodontics industry, making it more personal, affordable, and convenient for millions of consumers to achieve a smile they’ll love,” said SmileDirectClub cofounder Alex Fenkell in a statement. “HP’s breakthrough 3D printing and data intelligence platform makes this level of disruption possible for us, pushing productivity, quality, and manufacturing predictability to unprecedented levels, all with economics that allow us to pass on savings to the consumers seeking treatment using our teledentistry platform.”
SmileDirectClub cofounders Fenkell and Jordan Katzman met as teens at summer camp when they both had metal braces. They later decided that innovations in technology and telehealth could democratize access to safe, affordable, and convenient orthodontic care.
The two started the company in 2014 using a digital network of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists who prescribe teeth straightening treatment plans and manage all aspects of clinical care — from diagnosis to the completion of treatment — using the company’s proprietary teledentistry platform. To date, they have served half a million customers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, with plans to expand to Australia and the United Kingdom in 2019.
An estimated 80% of Americans could benefit from orthodontic care, yet only 1% receive it each year, with cost being the biggest prohibitive issue. In the U.S., 60% of counties do not have access to an orthodontist. By leveraging the benefits of teledentistry coupled with HP’s 3D printing technology, SmileDirectClub wants to give people a chance to achieve a straighter, brighter smile at a cost that is up to 60% less than traditional options.
SmileDirectClub and its manufacturing partners rely on HP Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions to produce the mouth molds for each patient’s aligners and retainers.
“SmileDirectClub and HP are reinventing the future of orthodontics, pushing the boundaries of customized 3D mass production and democratizing access to affordable, high-quality teeth straightening for millions of people,” said Christoph Schell, president of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing at HP, in a statement. “Through this collaboration, HP is helping SmileDirectClub accelerate its growth, enabling a new era of personalized consumer experiences only made possible by industrial 3D printing and digital manufacturing.”
HP and SmileDirectClub also announced a new recycling program, through which excess 3D material and already processed plastic mouth molds are recycled by HP and turned into pellets for traditional injection molding, leading to more sustainable production.