The largest orthodontic laboratory in the United Kingdom is Ashford Orthodontics, which was founded in 2001 by Sean Thompson in his garage after several years working in the Orthodontic and Maxillofacial Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital. Thompson started the company after noting that there was a growing demand for orthodontic devices but a shortage of high quality laboratories offering specialized orthodontic technical services. His business quickly grew, and he was joined by fellow orthodontic technicians Craig Stevens and Graeme Winyard. Now the lab is 12,000 square feet and has more than 50 employees.
Five years ago, Ashford Orthodontics started looking into digital orthodontic practices.
The company then bought a Formlabs Form 2. They started off with one of the printers, and are now up to 12.
The company's digital division currently has eight digital technicians managing 12 Form 2 3D printers.
The lab can also store digital models online and access them at any time, which can be helpful when you need to replace something like a retainer.
Ashford Orthodontics has been able to pass on cost and time savings to their clients by going digital.
Ashford now offers digital services for three practices that have no impression of materials in their offices - and thanks to the lab's services, they have been fully digitised.
“When we first started with the digital side of things, it accounted for maybe two percent of our business,” said Thompson. “Just this last month it’s around 15 percent, and it is the fastest growing sector within the laboratory. “At the moment, it's traditional technology, a little bit digital, but in two or three years, it's going to be digital technology, a little bit traditional.This will be the impetus for our department to move forward.”