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A Million-Dollar Smile at an Affordable Price: College Student Designs His Own Braces

Being a college student generally involves scraping by, clipping coupons and eating lots of ramen noodles, with little money left over for anything but the necessities. However, one New Jersey Institute of Technology student didn't let his meager budget keep him from getting a million dollar smile. Amos Dudley decided to take matters into his own hands, devising his own braces using 3D printing technology.
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Dudley had become unhappy with his teeth, which were slightly crooked, so much that he found himself not smiling. He once wore braces but neglected his teeth in the years since, eventually becoming self-conscious about them. Dudley searched online for clear braces, only to find that companies sell them for as much as $8,000, which was far out of his budgetary reach. Being a digital design student, he decided to make his own.

Dudley began by scanning and printing models of his teeth using 3D printing equipment at his school. Next, he molded clear nontoxic plastic around the teeth, creating a dozen sets of braces. Finally, he used animation to determine the adjustments that would need to be made to the braces to straighten his teeth, much like an orthodontist might, before putting on the final touches. Like Invisalign braces, Dudley's 3D braces were almost completely invisible when he was wearing them.image363

Dudley wore the braces for about 16 weeks, changing them out 12 times over the course of the treatment. At the end of 16 weeks, his teeth showed significant improvement and were much straighter. The total cost of the homespun 3D braces was less than $60, a figure that was much more affordable for his student budget. As Dudley's self-orthodontic care shows, the advent of 3D technology is nothing short of phenomenal.image448

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