Additive CAD/CAM process for dental prostheses

Nelson R.F.A. Silva, Lukasz Witek, Paulo G. Coelho, Van P. Thompson, Elizabeth D. Rekow, Jim Smay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes the evolution of a computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) process where ceramic paste is deposited in a layer-by-layer sequence using a computer numerical control machine to build up core and fixed partial denture (FPD) structures (robocasting). Al 2O 3 (alumina) or ZrO 2 (Y-TZP) are blended into a 0.8% aqueous solution of ammonium polyacrylate in a ratio of approximately 1:1 solid:liquid. A viscosifying agent, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, is added to a concentration of 1% in the liquid phase, and then a counter polyelectrolyte is added to gel the slurry. There are two methods for robocasting crown structures (cores or FPD framework). One is for the core to be printed using zirconia ink without support materials, in which the stereolithography (STL) file is inverted (occlusal surface resting on a flat substrate) and built. The second method uses a fugitive material composed of carbon black codeposited with the ceramic material. During the sintering process, the carbon black is removed. There are two key challenges to successful printing of ceramic crowns by the robocasting technique. First is the development of suitable materials for printing, and second is the design of printing patterns for assembly of the complex geometry required for a dental restoration. Robocasting has room for improvement. Current development involves enhancing the automation of nozzle alignment for accurate support material deposition and better fidelity of the occlusal surface. An accompanying effort involves calculation of optimal support structures to yield the best geometric results and minimal material usage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-96
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Prosthodontics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • All-ceramics
  • Robocasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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