Transparent orthodontic brackets by microinjection
The Tekniker Foundation, together with the company EuroOrtodoncia S.L., is designing a new range of orthodontic brackets which have minimum visual or aesthetic impact and which are manufactured by means of microinjection techniques. Dental brackets are small items employed in orthodontics for the correct alignment of the teeth.
The dental bracket market is in full swing worldwide for a number of reasons. In western societies this growth is due to the fact that criteria over buccal care have moved on from the merely functional – concerned with the conservation of dental elements – to take into account aesthetic considerations. It is no longer sufficient to have a healthy mouth but it must also look nice. This shift in criteria means that orthodontic applications have extended to other sectors of the population, apart from the typical adolescent sector. In other societies, as standards of living increase, orthodoncics and, in general, mouth care, is becoming more than just a prime need.
In this situation the visual impact of the bracket is no longer a secondary aspect but one of the priorities of the patient. Most brackets are currently manufactured in stainless steel with a consequent aesthetic impact for the patient. Brackets known as “aesthetic” because of their lower visual impact, are made form plastic and achieve their aesthetic effect by being transparent. Nevertheless, what is on offer at present is poor as regards mechanical resistance, ageing, resistance to hydrolysis, etc. And this is why there is little penetration in the current market.
The new product, fruit of joint collaboration between the Basque Tekniker Foundation technological centre and the Madrid (Spain) manufacturer, EuroOrtodoncia, has the aesthetic advantages of plastic combined with resistance properties similar to brackets made of metal. The characteristics achieved by the new product are basically twofold: the use, as base material, of a polymer with high mechanical properties but of poor injectability, and the employment of microtechnologies as a means of manufacture, both for the mould itself as well as for the subsequent microinjection moulding of the plastic bracket. It is at this second stage that the Tekniker Foundation has placed all the capabilities of its micromanufacture laboratory Tekniker MicroMachining (T.M.M.). at the service of the project.
The product is currently in the trials stage with patients, after which it will be launched on to the market by EuroOrtodoncia, possibly in the second half of 2005.
Garazi Andonegi | alfa
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