For the past 16 weeks, Amos Dudley, a digital design major at North Jersey Institute of Technology, has been straightening his top teeth using clear braces that he created himself. Dudley explained that he had braces in middle school but failed to wear his retainer as much as he should have. When his teeth shifted, Dudley came to the realization that he was self-conscious about the appearance of his teeth and didn’t smile much as a result.
Clear braces from popular companies like Invisalign, ClearCorrect, and Damon can cost up to $8,000. Dudley wanted to avoid these high price points and found a way to manufacture his own version of clear braces for less than $60.
Dudley was able to keep the cost so low because he only paid for the materials he used to manufacture the retainers and models of his teeth. He also used a high-end 3D printer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology rather than relying on the 3D printer he built at home.
He scanned and printed models of his teeth and molded non-toxic plastic around them to create a set of 12 clear braces. Equipment from the New Jersey Institute of Technology was used to make these homemade braces a reality.
Dudley figured out how far his teeth needed to move in order to fix the misalignment on his top teeth. Next, he divided the maximum recommended distance a tooth should travel to determine the alignment tray design. Dudley noted that orthodontists use a very similar process for their patients.
He explained that performing research to determine what materials he needed and figuring out how teeth move was the most challenging part of his DIY orthodontic creation. After 16 weeks, Dudley is pleased to see noticeable improvement in his teeth.
Dudley’s story proves the revolution of 3D printers and how people may resort to DIY projects rather than opting for professional help or products to receive what they need. Several individuals have asked Dudley to print braces for them but he declined explaining that there’s too much liability, he’s not interested in orthodontics, and did this more for his own enjoyment rather than for the intention to start a business.
Miami Invisalign Specialist Derek Sanders warns that this is not something everyone should try. By trying to save a few hundred dollars you may end up costing yourself tens of thousands in the long run.