Why SportingSmiles Turned To 3D Printing
As their customer base continued to grow, SportingSmiles, the online clear retainer company needed a new business model to satisfy the needs of customers. Founded in 2009 in Brookfield, Wisconsin, SportingSmiles took the next step to their dental production in 2018 when the company invested in 3D Printing. It was an easy decision for CEO and owner, Evan McCarthy who was eager to integrate the printers with his dental technicians.
"I knew that with technology advancing and with our customer base growing so much that we needed to take the next step," McCarthy said. "3D Printing the dental models of the impressions was a natural progression and one that has paid off quite well for us and our team. We're able to scan the impressions into the system and they appear right on the printing plate and go into production shortly after."
SportingSmiles avoided a learning curve with the printers by having experts on-site to train the staff and complete training modules. After just a few days each dental technician was an expert in 3D printing and could successfully run the process on their own. The printers also saved time and tedious cleaning that came with the previous stone models that had to be shaved down with grinding machines. Grinding machines leave dust and debris across the lab and the implementation of printing it minimized post-processing cleaning.
While the 3D printers are powerful machines that have advanced machinery, the maintenance on them is relatively simple according to McCarthy.
"Like all other tools and machines you want to inspect them every few weeks," McCarthy said. "I've done a few adjustments but it's nothing too complicated and if I ever had a question, the printers had a support staff that I could reach out to. I found that the printers needed much less attention than our other tools and machines in the dental lab."
With the production of dental models through 3D printing, SportingSmiles has since been able to offer upsells to their returning customers. As the impressions are scanned and uploaded digitally, the team at SportingSmiles can reprint any impressions on file when needed. This perk means that customers can reorder whenever they choose including trying new dental products like whitening trays, night guards, or sports mouthguards.
The printers have changed the business model for SportingSmiles and there is no end in sight.
"The 3D printers were another tool that helped us grow the past few years," McCarthy said. "They've done wonders for the accuracy of the models and everyone seems to enjoy using them. We feel like cutting-edge dental lab now."
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