Oral Medicine and Dental Equipment Development
This case study will introduce how Delta Line motion solutions enable technological innovation in dental imaging, and orthodontics to be deployed to the general population.
Delta Line is integral to the motion inside of many applications all over the world. We are immersed in a wide range of industries such as agriculture, healthcare, intralogistics, robotics, and even consumer products. We are a trusted partner because of our dual value proposition: we provide a large catalog of customizable products and have a collaborative global engineering presence. We meld our motion solution expertise with the application knowledge of our customers to create breakthrough technologies and products.
Electric Conversion in Dental Equipment
Initial innovation in dental equipment, from a motor’s perspective, was focused on aiding manual work. From removing, repairing, and replacing, work was at the time hand or by human motion (i.e. the dental treadle drill). In 1868 the first pneumatic drill was developed. The first electric dental drill was patented in the US only 7 years later; however, pneumatics would continue to dominate in dental handpieces for decades. The widespread adoption of pneumatics is understandable as harnessing the power of compressed air proved to be more reliable (and cost-effective) than the electromechanical options at the time.
As electric motor technologies expanded, so did oral medicine. Electric motors started to become more power dense over time, increasing their torque and speed capability while continuing to decrease in size. As motors became more widely adopted in almost every application, it brought the average price of motors down. Soon designers began to realize that leveraging electric motors has a price-to-performance advantage over the defacto pneumatic standard. Electric motors are also quieter and eliminate the maintenance burden of ultra-clean compressed air systems.
As a result, more powerful, reliable, and controllable motors began to replace their pneumatic predecessors. Delta Line was at the forefront of the electric conversion in dental equipment in the 1990s, initially providing solutions to OEMs in Europe and then globally. We guided customers along the innovation journey from DC motors to brushless motors and finally to stepper motors. The scalability of these new motors allowed oral healthcare equipment companies to expand into both preventive and restorative care.
Expanding Oral Medicine
As society shifted from emergency oral care to preventative (and cosmetic) care, standardized, cost-effective treatment methods and equipment emerged. For example, intraoral and extraoral imaging became an important tool as the technology became affordable. Part of equipment affordability is a thoughtfully considered motion platform that is precise, reliable, and not overdesigned. Our experts think about this routinely.
Through collaborative development, we work with our customers to specify exact fit solutions including customized motor and drive solutions. We customize our standard products for plug-and-play-ready systems without requiring prohibitively large MOQs or long wait times. By providing attentive support to our customers, we help enable affordable technology to reach the broader population.
Centralized Lab Services moved Chairside
Innovation in oral care continues at blinding speed in several areas. For example, the materials used for treating teeth, roots, gums, and jaws improved by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. These materials improve the daily life and self-esteem of each patient. However, they require custom machining for every person which meant patients had to wait weeks for a central machining center to process their restorations. Inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, bridges, abutments, and surgical guides were started at the first visit and required a second visit (or more) to complete. Now, thanks to equipment innovations, these items can be completed in the dentist’s office using an onsite milling machine.
In this case our configurable and customizable motors provide the motion for some of the best CAD /CAM milling machines in the market. For these systems Delta Line supplies 3 motors with custom encoders and mechanical interfaces inside each machine. Two motors are dedicated to the dental burs (tools) and one is responsible for turning the restoration being machined.
Since all these services are moving from a centralized lab to individual oral care offices, understanding the challenges that chairside care commands are crucial to the design. The main requirements these applications demand are three:
- Machine cost-effectiveness
- Minimal machine size and footprint
- Reliable machining precision
Customers look to Delta Line to help them solve these technical challenges because of our proven track record in this application segment.
Future innovations: Connective Care
One of the most recent wave of innovation revolves around process connectivity. Equipment manufacturers (like our customers) are creating software that passes information between different pieces of equipment to make the patient’s time in the chair shorter and less frequent. Our technical team spends time designing the motion solutions so our customers do not have to. We design customized motors that bring to life 3D printers, Intraoral and Extraoral X-ray imaging equipment, instrumentation, endodontic equipment, regenerative solution, and more.
Oral medicine has a long innovation runway; however, the demands of speed and end cost are putting increasing pressure on our customers. We learned from our experience in industries like robotics, healthcare, and consumer applications that product flexibility is not a preference, it is a requirement. This is why we offer an expansive catalog of customizable products. Our catalog includes stepper motors, DC Brush motors, DC Brushless motors, linear actuators, integrated motors, gearboxes and more.
Our motor design engineers support an expanding range of motor design modifications, from small feature changes on catalog motors to new motors designed to custom specifications. Delta Line is an extension of our customer’s design team, providing technical and supply chain solutions that help them achieve their goals. This is why the team at Delta Line is integral to the motion inside of many applications all over the world.