Meet the NJIT undergrad who 3D printed his own plastic braces for $60

Published on March 19, 2019

Orthodontists beware: there is an undergraduate at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who might put you out of business.

That undergraduate’s name is Amos Dudley. With only $60 of materials, Dudley made his own plastic braces using a 3D printer.

“By conciously smiling, we trigger a psychological feedback mechanism that causes us to be happy.” – Amos Dudley

Dudley shared in his blog that he realized he wasn’t smiling because he was unhappy with his teeth. Its crooked alignment was what made him self-conscious. “By avoiding smiling, I was dampening my own potential for spontaneous happiness,” Dudley said.

He only had to spend a little and use healthy dose of ingenuity to make it work.

Finding a way

Dudley wore braces when he was in middle school. Since he didn’t wear retainers after, his teeth slowly relapsed.

Instead of spending thousands on another treatment, he devised a way to save on thousands of dollars. Dudley used his major in digital design to make his own braces.

Dudley shared two things that made him decide to make his own braces: he was broke and he had access to a high-quality 3D printer through his university.

From there, he took advantage.

The study

He ran across a photo from a “name brand clear-alignment treatment.” Dudley noticed that the plastic looked like it had the layer striations from a 3D print hence, he decided to 3D-print his own.

First, Dudley used alginate powder to take his dental impressions. “These molds are very precise, and capture an amazing amount of detail,” he writes. The bubbles in the mold didn’t affect the aligner according to him.

He fabricated a series of models using relatively inexpensive plastic. After that was done, all he had to do was wear them.

The process

Dudley documented the process. He first made a disclaimer stating:

“Do not attempt anything written here; I assume no liability for any actions you take to modify your body.”

Dudley said it wasn’t easy. He researched orthodontic procedures to plot his design. Then, he would make measurements to make sure his teeth would move in the right way.

He wore the plastic aligners all day and all night for 16 weeks. The only time he took them out was when he ate.

The result

Dudley claims to be the first person to have tried DIY-ing plastic aligners. He also found it more comfortable than traditional braces. It also fit his teeth quite well.

“I was pleased to find, when I put the first one on, that it only seemed to put any noticeable pressure on the teeth that I planned to move – a success!” – Amos Dudley.

It was worth it for him as the end results were positive. Dudley has seen other uses for the braces such as whitening trays and night guards.

He now plans on fabricating a bunch of retainers for the current position, which he plans to use permanently during the night.

“They’ve been protecting my teeth from nighttime grinding, without being bulky,” he concluded.

Jaime Aldecoa is a staff writer at Grit Daily. He is an avid traveler, YouTube vlogger, and podcast host. He holds a degree in Mass Communication.

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