Invisalign Manufacturing Process
Invisalign – One Of The Earliest Successes of 3D Printing Technology and Mass Customisation
Invisalign is a product manufactured by Align Technology, a medical-device company with its head quarter based in California. The clear, removable orthodontic aligners are used to adjust and straighten teeth and are a popular alternative to dental braces due to being invisible, as the product’s name implies.
Align Technology was one of the early adopters of 3D printing technology and is a successful example of mass customisation. Founded in 1997 by Zia Chishti, the company started producing and selling Invisalign in the US in 1999. Based on a digital model captured with the iTero intra-oral 3D scanner, the clear aligners are created by dental technicians with their Align Technology’s proprietary software, before being manufactured using SLA technology by 3D Systems. The company’s facility produces and ships up to 80,000 custom made aligners each day.
The same treatment service if offered by ClearCorrect and Orthoclear, both companies based in the United States. During a dispute over patent issues between Align Technology and ClearCorrect, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) became involved, when ClearCorrect began to outsource part of their process to Pakistan. There, digital models for the aligners are created based on 3D scans performed on patients and send back to the United States. Align argued that the electronic transmission of these digital models could be considered an illegal importation of articles. A three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit has reversed the ITC’s ruling over the case and states that the Commission’s jurisdiction does not extend to transmission of digital data.