Invisalign Acquires Cubicure to Advance 3D Printing in Orthodontic Solutions

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Invisalign, leading the clear aligner industry, has made significant advancement with the acquisition of Cubicure, a trailblazer in direct 3D printing solutions for polymer additive manufacturing (AM). This strategic move completed by Align Technology, the parent company of Invisalign and listed as ALGN on Nasdaq, marks a major step in the advancement of orthodontic treatment, combining revolutionary technology and top-notch expertise. Cubicure, known for its leading-edge Hot Lithography technology, is a specialist in transforming highly viscous resins to create long-lasting, heat-resistant polymers, making it an ideal addition to the Invisalign portfolio.

The agreement between Align and Cubicure, although announced in the third quarter of 2023, was finalized in early January 2024. The deal was worth approximately €79 million ($87 million) and is subject to adjustments according to standard closing conditions and Align’s prior stake in Cubicure. This tactful move is expected to improve Align’s intellectual property in direct 3D printing of dental appliances by expanding its digital presence in the orthodontic industry. Moreover, merging with Cubicure will boost and enhance Align’s printing, materials, and manufacturing skills for its vast 3D printed product portfolio.

Strategic Integration

Joe Hogan, President and CEO of Align Technology, expressed enthusiasm over the acquisition of Cubicure, highlighting the immense potential it holds for their 3D printing operations. According to Hogan, direct 3D printing enabled by Cubicure technology simplifies the creation of 3D printed solutions by eliminating the need to first create a mold, making the process more sustainable and efficient.

Align Technology is expecting the integration of Cubicure to dramatically enhance its strategic innovation plans and improve the capabilities of the Align Digital Platform. The said platform supports the brand’s high-level printing, materials, and manufacturing processes. With this acquisition, Align’s Invisalign Palatal Expander system – a newer, more efficient alternative to traditional palatal expanders for rectifying dental conditions like crossbites and overcrowding – is included in its range of 3D printed products.

The Invisalign platform from Align Technology assists with orthodontic treatment. For more information, click here.

Cubicure’s unique Hot Lithography technology, known for its one-of-a-kind heating and coating mechanism, has been recognized crucial for working with highly viscous resins. The technology allows for the creation of exceptionally durable, temperature-resistant polymers. Its precision in 3D printing processes supports the creation of sturdy components, signaling major advancements in material quality and functionality in the orthodontics sector.

Legacy of Innovation and Growth

Align’s history is steeped in innovation and growth. Over its 26-year journey, Align has invested billions in state-of-the-art technologies, including advanced 3D printing, revolutionizing digital orthodontics. Its portfolio, featuring the Invisalign system, iTero intraoral scanners, and Exocad CAD/CAM software, symbolizes its commitment to pioneering technology-driven orthodontic solutions.

Invisalign treatment transforms dental problems. Image courtesy of Align Technology.

The company’s inaugural direct 3D printed orthodontic device, the Invisalign Palatal Expander system, offers a practical, patient-friendly alternative to conventional palatal expanders. Currently used by roughly 252,000 doctors globally, the company’s suite of products aims to improve patient outcomes.

Align has invested billions of dollars in innovation over the past 27 years, including next-generation 3D printing technologies to process high-performance polymers, said Srini Kaza, the Senior Vice President of Product Research and Development at Align. We’re at the beginning of this next wave of direct 3D printing additive manufacturing, and I believe we’re poised to transform the orthodontic industry again with our unprecedented ability to direct print devices.

Despite its active efforts to broaden technological landscapes through several acquisitions like Cadent, GL Dental Couture Limited, and exocad since 2011, it’s the first time that Align has incorporated a 3D printed company into its fold. This indicates a significant strategic leap for Align and highlights a strategic focus on amalgamating advanced 3D printing into its product line.

Image courtesy of Align Technology.

Market Dynamics

While Align continues to innovate and expand, particularly its foray into 3D printing technology, the clear aligner industry is experiencing significant changes. In particular, the closure of SmileDirectClub in 2023 marked a shift in the sector. Known for its direct-to-consumer model, SmileDirectClub contrasts with Invisalign’s approach, which has always prioritized professional, in-person care and fittings. The departure of SmileDirectClub from the market not only highlights the complexities inherent in the clear aligner market but also solidifies Invisalign’s role as a leading provider in this field.

Invisalign’s clear dental aligners, which gradually straighten teeth through sustained pressure, require changing every one to three weeks, with total treatment durations extending over several months. The absence of SmileDirectClub from the market further accentuates Invisalign’s role as a key player in orthodontic treatments. With its proven track record and the acquisition of Cubicure now boosting its capabilities, Invisalign could try to set new benchmarks in orthodontic care.

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