3D Scanners, Printers, and Teeth: The ATA International Combo

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In 2019, 3D printing isn’t an alien technology in Sri Lanka. It was arguably 3D Concept Studio that first popularized it. Since then we’ve seen large giants selling 3D printers. Along with other local companies manufacturing their own brand of 3D printers here in Sri Lanka. Whereas 3D scanners are typically found in the realm of academics.

Since recently a team of engineers from a reputed company is looking at it from a different perspective. ATA International (Pvt) Ltd. has been in the business of providing engineering equipment to universities for over 30 years. When 3D Printing first made an appearance in Sri Lanka, they helped universities setup labs to utilize this technology.

Venturing into the world of 3D Scanners

Recently, A.T.A International entered into a partnership with SHINING3D, which manufactures a wide range of solutions for 3D printing and scanning. The company also provides integrated equipment and service solutions for industrial manufacturing, education, bio-medical applications and much more.

3D Scanners | Printers
The EinScan Pro+ 3D Scanner in action

Currently, A.T.A International has sold 3D scanners to a number of universities. Some of these universities are: South Eastern University and the University of Jaffna. Recently we were introduced to one of their 3D Scanners in the EinScan series. Weighing just shy of 0.8 kg we found it ideal for portability and user experience.

As such, you can use these scanners to freely scan an object and create a 3D modeled computed design which is uploaded onto a computer in real-time. During handheld operations, the accuracy ranges from 0.1 mm – 0.04 mm. Alternatively, you can also use a turntable, which rotates automatically to scan an object placed on it.

3D Scanners | Printers
The complete setup to scan objects with a EinScan Pro+ 3D Scanner

But at its core, a 3D scanner is a set of cameras doing very complex tasks.Therefore, there are times when you notice the full object wasn’t scanned. In these instances it is possible to get a clearer scan by making minor tweaks in terms of brightness. Additionally, with a third (optional) camera, it can capture vivid details such as colour of the object.

Looking at 3D technologies beyond engineering

While A.T.A International has sold 3D printers and scanners to various engineering faculties of universities, it sees potential for these technologies in other areas as well. One of these areas being medicine. For example, the creation of dental crowns, dentures, surgical guides etc. Currently it is a very time consuming process.

It starts with the dentist getting an impression of the patient’s teeth. Afterward, this impression is sent to one of the few manufacturing labs in Sri Lanka. At these labs the required parts are designed and manufactured manually or with the support of milling machines. This entire process can easily take a few weeks.

3D Scanners | Printers
A Dental 3D scanner that could transform the process of creating dental items

This is why the team at A.T.A wants to utilize their 3D scanners and printers to speed things up. These 3D scanners can create a digital 3D file of the impression taken by the dentist. This file can then easily be transferred to the labs. After a few tweaks to the designs, the parts can be printed in biocompatible materials which can be directly used on the patient, or in wax which can then be used for metal casting.

According to the team at ATA International, a desktop printer can print about 20 dental models in an hour. This would drastically reduce the time it takes for parts to reach dentists and by extension the patients.

The challenges of introducing 3D technologies

Sachith Fernando from the ATA International team shared with us that getting people in the medical industry to embrace these technologies is a different ball game when compared to the organizations that they regularly deal with, which focus on engineering and manufacturing products. Nonetheless, the team believes it is just another hurdle they need to overcome by using years of experience.

A.T.A aims to introduce the technology to the medical faculties of universities. And by introducing the time saving benefits early on to medical students, they believe future doctors will be eager in adopting it. So the only question that remains is, would you like your dentist to give you 3D printed teeth? Let us know in the comments below.  

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