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Step One: Occlusal Splints

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What can I do with D3Tool right now?

Make a great occlusal splint.  While the long term vision of D3Tool is a more general purpose and open platform for dental CAD tasks, the clear goal for today is a simple, effective and low cost occlusal splint module.  The resins are there, the printers are there, but until now, the CAD is not there unless you are willing to dive into the professional dental CAD packages.  It’s a wide open hole!  This is why splints and guards have been the aim for an initial release.

What is the workflow?

This is best demonstrated with a time-lapse.  Right now, a simple guard for a reasonably normal occlusal scheme should take about 10 minutes.  Our goal as we refine the workflow is a 3 minute design that has full control over the occlusal scheme (guidance, excursions, disclusion, balance etc).

How are the fits?

So good I’m a little nervous. My initial test of about 6 guards have all fit the teeth well with no internal adjustments.  I attribute the excellent fits to the quality of the input data and the quality of current desktop 3d printing technology.  From a CAD point of view, the concept of fit is simple. Subtract the teeth from the desired outer shape with a small offset.  So if the input data is good, and the manufacturing is good, then not much refinement is needed other than choosing your offset.

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How is the occlusion?

Pretty darn good!  The main limitation right now, is that the articulation simulations are dependent on the fidelity of the estimated parameters (condylar inclination, incisal guidance, Bennet angle, facebow mounting).  The occlusal scheme seems to be on par as if you sent physical models to the lab, asked for an average value mounting on a semi-adjustable articulator.  Below is a gallery of my first 4 test splints with no occlusal adjustment.  There is no question that the MIP bite is as good as your bite registration.  The excursions have been very close, but I can tell that in some cases, the average values have not matched the patient perfectly.

What are the next steps for D3Splint?

The tool is good, but it definitely has the potential to be excellent.  In no particular order, the main developement goals to make this go from a beta to a polished module.

  1. Make the splint perimeter defined on the buccal and palatal. [DONE]
  2. Decrease the amount of sculpting needed, this is the current largest time commitment [IN PROGRESS]
  3.  Automatically generate a “relaxing ramp” that will allow posterior jaw movment [DONE]
  4. Use of lateral and protrusive check bites to establish articulator values
  5. Use an external Boolean engine to reduce errors in the final output step [IN PROGRESS]
  6. Mandibular [DONE], maxillary [DONE], and dual arch [IN PROGRESS] workflows

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What is D3Splint?

The Proof of Concept

D3Splint is really meant to be the icebreaker to introduce the Digital Dental Design Tool to the dental community.  It is a proof of concept to show what is possible within Blender. It is the temperature test to see if the dental market is ready for a low cost and open source product and if Blender has what it takes to deliver workflows that are actually valuable and useful.

Product or Project?

It is both.  We are selling D3Splint as a product, however all proceeds from D3Splint, will go toward the D3Tool project.  If you would like to support the larger project more directly, we have a donation page here.  We decided to approach it this way because without some level of value demonstration from the community and customers, there is no point in pursuing the bigger project.  If sales are very good, we hire a developer to move the project forward.  If sales and community support do not reach critical mass, we will continue to improve D3Splint to a point of stability and abandon the larger D3Tool project.

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What is Blender

Blender is the application that the Digital Dental Design Tool is built upon.  Blender is a 3D content creation application with an expansive set of tools.  It is a massive project with a lot of users (500,000 unique downloads per month) and a large pool of international contributors.  There are 3 very important aspects of Blender that make it an ideal platform on which to base D3Tool.

Free, Open Source and Zero Cost

Aren’t free and zero cost the same thing?  I will dedicate an entire post to this later, but what free really means in this context is best stated on Blender’s website.

Free to use for any purpose, forever.


This allows D3Tool to be used by as many people as possible.

Blender is cross-platform and runs equally well on Linux, Windows, and Macintosh computers

The API:  Robust, Mature and Stable

Blender’s API is incredible.  It allows access to nearly every aspect of Blender to be controlled and manipulated by python scripts.  It allows expanding Blender’s tools where they are lacking and simplifying aspects that are unnecessary for a particular use.  The API is the language in which we shape Blender from a general purpose 3D creation suite into streamlined dental CAD workflows.

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What is D3Tool?

What it is now:

D3Tool is the Digital Dental Design Tool for Blender, a project aimed at establishing an open source and easy to use dental CAD that offers freedoms not available in other software.  Currently, it is a collection of custom tools written as an add-on to Blender.  These tools showcase the potential of what is possible with Blender for digital dentistry.   In their current state they do not work together in a cohesive way to make it practical to accomplish those possibilities and that is what this project aims to reconcile.  The front page demo reel shows a small set of what has been done in Blender so far to give you an idea.

What it will become:

.  The goal of the project is to establish a stable and cohesive framework for the existing tools to work within and to expand upon.  What does that mean and why is it important?  This is the equivalent to good civil engineering and urban planning that allows a city to efficiently grow and expand in a sustainable way.  The end goal is a dental CAD platform that meets the following criteria.

  • A low barrier of entry into 3D dentistry for new users.
  • Out of the box easy workflows for the most common dental CAD tasks
  • Access to data at any point in the CAD process
  • Expandable – Easy to to make custom tools, streamline repetitive tasks or do research
  • Community Driven – A community supported ecosystem that additional services and education can be built upon.

What it is not:

First and foremost, this is not meant to displace the existing players in the dental CAD space.  In fact this project’s very existence is because of how far the pioneers in this space have taken us.  However this tool offers an alternative in cost and in some instances an alternative in function.  Most likely, D3T will exist as a compliment to the existing CAD packages.