A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Impact of Manufacturing Technology on Implant Surgery

Discover how computer-aided manufacturing technology is revolutionizing dental implant procedures through advanced surgical template fabrication methods.


The use of computer-aided manufacturing technology brings the virtual design into reality. Additive or subtractive processes are utilized during manufacturing. Subtractive technology (ie, milling) uses cutting instruments to shape material that comes from the manufacturer,1 while additive processes (ie, three-dimensional [3D] printers) utilize special ink materials and an energy source to build up layer by layer.2 The accuracy of surgical template production via subtractive or additive technology is comparable within a clinically acceptable range.3

Thanks to advances in dental materials and production methods, surgical templates can be fabricated in metal, zirconia, or resin.4,5 The majority of surgical templates are made of 3D-printed resin due to ease in material accessibility and facilities in the clinic, ease of fabrication, and cost. However, the disadvantages are a thicker, bulkier template to compensate for the resin’s strength limitations.

Bulkier templates limit accessibility, as well as the surgical view. By comparison, metal and zirconia are stronger than resin and do not need to be as thick, which enhances surgical visibility and access. The drawbacks of using metal or zirconia are the increased cost and manufacturing time of the surgical template.

The advent of digital workflows for implant treatment has increased accuracy and improved diagnosis, treatment planning and surgical execution in dental implant placement. In turn, these benefits have led to more predictable and successful implant outcomes.


  1. Beuer F, Schweiger J, Edelhoff D. Digital dentistry: an overview of recent developments for CAD/​CAM generated restorations. Br Dent J.2008;204:505–511.
  2. Duda T, Raghavan LV. 3D metal printing technology. IFAC-PapersOnLine. 2016;49:103–110.
  3. Henprasert P, Dawson DV, El-Kerdani T, et al. Comparison of the accuracy of implant position using surgical guides fabricated by additive and subtractive techniques. J Prosthodont. 2020;29:534–541.
  4. Stansbury JW, Idacavage MJ. 3D printing with polymers: challenges among expanding options and opportunities. Dental Materials. 2016;32:54–64.
  5. Chen L, Lin WS, Polido WD, Eckert GJ, Morton D. Accuracy, reproducibility, and dimensional stability of additively manufactured surgical templates. J Prosthet Dent. 2019;122:309–314.

This information originally appeared in Alqallaf H, Su FY, Goel A, Lin WS. Utilizing a digital workflow for implant treatment planning. Decisions in Dentistry. 2021;7(5)12-14,16-17.

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