A technique for fabricating patterns for removable partial denture frameworks using digitized casts and electronic surveying

Although computer-aided design and manufacture techniques have shown some promising applications in the fabrication of crowns, inlays, and maxillofacial and oral surgery, the field of removable prosthodontics has not embraced these technologies so far. This article describes the development and investigation of computer-aided techniques that may eventually enable prosthodontic procedures such as surveying and the production of sacrificial patterns to be performed digitally. A 3-dimensional computer model of a conventional cast from a patient was obtained using an optical surface capture device (a scanner). The shape of a number of components of a removable partial denture framework was modeled on the 3-dimensional scan electronically, using computer-aided design software. A physical plastic shape of the components was produced using a Rapid Prototyping machine and used as a sacrificial pattern. Techniques to allow digital cast surveying before the production of sacrificial patterns were also developed. The results show that digital dental surveying and machine-produced sacrificial patterns can be accomplished. This article forms a basis for further developments leading to a fully integrated approach to the computer-aided design and fabrication of removable partial denture frameworks.