Dental Tribune Asia Pacific
3D printing will have an increasingly important role to play in dentistry. (Image: NicoElNino/Shutterstock)

Dental 3D printing adoption across Asia Pacific—Top three trends and forecast

November 11, 2021

The digital dentistry market in Asia Pacific has started to gain traction because of technological advances and the demand for improved precision, although the markets lag severely behind North America and Europe.

Dental 3D printing has rapidly become an important part of many digital dentistry workflows in countries such as Australia, Japan and South Korea. Dental 3D printers are now an increasingly popular tool in dental laboratories, dental practices and orthodontic practices and have many uses, including the production of crown and bridge models and final prostheses. Whereas the dental 3D printer segment is the smallest segment of the digital dentistry market, it has grown the most rapidly in recent years. Countries such as China and India, who lag behind in terms of novel technology, have not seen nearly as much advancement.

Asia Pacific, US and European 3D printer markets. (Image: iData)

Trend #1: Technological advancements lead to growth opportunities

Dental 3D printing allows for significant time savings for a variety of applications, which is a common feature of most digital dentistry technology. Production of models, surgical guides, night guards and other products is extremely rapid and requires minimal labour. Models, in particular, are often quite laborious to produce traditionally, making this a significant opportunity for time savings. The enhanced productivity offered by digital workflows will continue to drive growth in the dental 3D printing market. Ongoing regulatory approvals of materials for new indications will result in significant growth in the dental 3D printer market. Whereas 3D-printed dental prosthetics are not yet available in many Asia Pacific countries, such approval is likely to induce significant market value growth when it occurs. A single dental 3D printer from a major manufacturer is generally capable of producing surgical guides, models, night guards, dentures and temporary crowns; the technology is, therefore, very versatile, and growth hinges largely on the materials approved for use.

Trend #2: Technological learning curves and regulatory approvals delay market growth

Dental 3D printers are still relatively new technology and tend not to be overly user friendly. A steep learning curve is often involved in the incorporation of dental 3D printing into a digital workflow, limiting access for less technologically adept dentists and dental laboratory technicians. Similar issues limited the growth of the chairside CAD/CAM system market in Asia Pacific; significant time must be invested in learning the technology, and strong customer support from manufacturers is key to success. As dental 3D printers become more user friendly, this issue will be mitigated, but for the time being, it limits the potential for growth in the Asia Pacific market.

Regulatory approvals for new indications are required for products in the Asia Pacific market. Currently, many of the newest innovations in the CAD/CAM material market are unavailable in Asia Pacific, and it is unknown when they will be approved. This uncertainty limits the potential for market growth.

Trend #3: COVID-19’s impact on the Asia Pacific market

The global dental market was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Asia Pacific was no exception. The markets for dental prosthetics as well as CAD/CAM devices and materials are interdependent and have, therefore, also been similarly affected. The overall market value for dental prosthetics decreased dramatically compared with the previous year because of the elective nature of the procedures and the tight regulations that led to the closure of many dental clinics. Owing to its high price point, the premium market was impacted the most notably. The total market is expected to recover in 2021 and continue to grow at a moderate pace.

Impact of COVID-19 on the 3D printer market in Asia Pacific. (Image: iData)

3D dental printers market forecast

Overall, the dental 3D printer market in Asia Pacific experienced a decline in 2020 because of reduced dental spending across the nation. This decline is temporary, and the market will return to normal unit sales forecasts by 2022. For the remainder of the forecast period, the dental 3D printer market in Asia Pacific is expected to experience strong unit sales growth; as more laboratories go digital and more CAD/CAM materials receive regulatory approval, the demand for 3D printers will increase.

 

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