Advanced Dental and Orthopedic Models Built Using Polyurethanes
- Category: Case Histories
Anatomical models built from computerized scans and data today are helping advance medical science in areas ranging from the education of physicians and dentists to surgical planning of complex procedures to new product introductions and visual aids for doctor use in explaining procedures to patients. Long-time supplier to the dental/medical market, Models Plus combines next-generation technologies and high-durability polyurethanes to mold precision, “life-like” models quickly and cost-effectively.
Jeff Maki, president of Models Plus, Kingsford Heights, Indiana, explains, “CAD software and stereolithography processing help us quickly develop 3D patterns for each project. To achieve the presentation-quality needed for our models, we work closely with polyurethane supplier Innovative Polymers. Their chemists and our experienced modelmakers work together allowing us to tailor and customize models at very high level.” Innovative Polymers, Saint Johns, Michigan, supplies Models Plus with custom-colored, water-clear polyurethanes as well as a rigid, white polyurethane for dental and orthopedic models.
Jeff Maki formed Models Plus in 1996 after working in and with dental laboratories for more than 20 years. Initial models of dental prosthetics and orthodontia were hand-cast based on waxing off a physical model. Today, Models Plus has an extensive portfolio of standard and custom orthodontic, endodontic and dental implant/restoration models for dentists; it also produces orthopedic models for doctors and implant models for surgeons. In addition, Models Plus builds dental and orthopedic education models used by leading schools and universities. And, manufacturers of medical and dental supplies rely on its aesthetically attractive, durable appearance models for focus groups, sales, photography and trade show display as the companies bring new products to market.
Models Plus begins each project by defining specific objectives with the customer. Model appearance, functionality, durability and end-use are discussed as well as budgetary, lead-time and delivery considerations. Once this process is complete, customers provide Models Plus with available digital data. Technicians then utilize state-of-the-art CAD software to produce a three-dimensional design. When the virtual concept is finalized, Models Plus builds stereolithography patterns for each section of the model (e.g. gum tissue and teeth) and pours RTV silicone rubber molds in which the physical parts will be cast.
Model sections are then cast from polyurethane after the material has been thoroughly mixed and degassed. Models Plus cures both clear and opaque white polyurethane systems under pressure. Clear parts are demolded after three to four hours at room temperature; solid white model sections can be removed from molds in less than 20 minutes. Various parts are then assembled and cemented in place to form the complete model. Surfaces are buffed and polished as needed to obtain the desired appearance.
“For pigmented clear polyurethane models, Innovative Polymers matches our designated colors with outstanding consistency. This ensures that each of our custom models meets project specifications and that our standard models are virtually identical in color and appearance,” says Maki.
“Our goal is to provide customers with the finest 3D models possible. The methods we use and the materials supplied by Innovative Polymers allow us to meet and exceed these objectives even on the most challenging projects,” Maki concludes.