Amos Dudley, an undergraduate studying at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, created his own plastic braces by utilizing $60 in materials, a 3D printer, and creativity! They actually worked, and got him the smile he had been dreaming of.
He went through middle school with regular braces, but didn’t wear his retainer as instructed, so his teeth went back to their previous condition. Not wanting to pay thousands for another round of braces, he decided to make his own. His intelligence and digital-design major helped to make this happen.
He used his blog to keep track of his endeavor; first letting the world know that while he wasn’t very wealthy, he did have access to a 3D printer at his college and was going to take full advantage of it. Of course, it wasn’t an easy task to create his homemade braces. First, he had to study different procedures that orthodontists use, and had to come up with a plan to get his teeth to move the right way. He came up with the plan of fabricating different models made of inexpensive plastic to wear in a certain order, then completed the process by wearing them.
The following are the steps he took in order to perfect his smile on a budget:
- He first came up with the idea to create his own clear alignment treatment when he came across a photo of a mold used in the process, and thought that it looked like it had been created with a 3D printer.
- To create the perfect fitting, he took a mold of his teeth with alginate powder, which is very precise and keeps detail.
- He then put the mold upside down in a container originally used for yogurt and filled it with liquid permastone. He then broke the top off to expose the casting, and smoothed it out with a razor blade.
- He studied the mold and was left with a better sense of what was going on in his mouth. The right lateral incisor protruded out.
- He then did the laser scanning, which wasn’t very difficult. The dimensions were almost identical to those he measured on the physical model he created. He also created an animation to show the steps that his teeth would take to align correctly.
- Then came the actual printing. The pieces looked almost identical, so it was very important for him to label them correctly to get his anticipated results.
- When the final versions of his braces were expelled from the vacuum form machine, he made sure to sand down the edges so his gums would be comfortable when using the braces.
He wore his braces for about four months, and acquired the smile he was hoping for! His teeth seem to be perfectly aligned, and he is no longer ashamed of showing them off! With a little ingenuity and a 3D printer, Dudley was able to successfully create his own version of a clear alignment treatment.