A VAR start-up has joined the growing swathe of channel companies looking to cash in on the 3D printing market, and claims its niche focus on the dental market will help it stand out from the crowd.
Oxfordshire-based Sonar 3D – a branch of Sonar Intelligence – has invested in two 3D printing machines from vendor EnvisionTec with the aim of creating parts to sell to dental labs across the country.
The firm will focus on printing clear braces to begin with, but will create various parts which will eventually be sold on to end-user organisations including teaching hospitals and dental surgeries in the public and private sector. It will also provide services and support to the dental labs.
Despite 3D printing technology having been in use over the past three decades, the market has boomed within the past 12 months with mainstream channel firms such as HP, Midwich and Ingram Micro all announcing their plans of attack.
Sonar 3D managing director Andi Robinson predicted that 3D printing will take off, especially in the dental market.
"The dental market is ripe for change at the moment, the technology [surgeries have now] are X-ray machines and the chair so 3D printing is a big departure from that," he said. "Nobody likes change but there is new blood coming in from teaching environments who want the latest technology.
"This [3D printing] technology is in a different league cost wise so it is a foreign situation for them, but early adopters want a digital solution."
He said the technology his firm offers allows dentists to digitally scan patients' mouths for custom-made braces instead of using plaster models – which he claims will save dentists storage space which could be more efficiently used as well as prevent deterioration of the physical moulds.
Robinson added that NHS dental organisations have cost-saving initiatives in place which could be good news for the kind of 3D printing he offers, but said he has a mix of both public and private sector clients lined up.
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