Milca Mendez: ACRE on 3D Printing and Dentistry

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My name is Milca Mendez and I am a Biology and Spanish (Pre-Dental) major and currently a senior! This summer besides applying to dental school, and taking the DAT, I am doing research at Albright with a program we have called ACRE. ACRE is an acronym that stands for Albright Creative Research Experience. I first heard about ACRE from my current advisor Professor Jocelyn Kolb as a sophomore. I took Professor Kolb’s ART 265 class for my art requirement at Albright, and I thoroughly enjoyed the class. After showing our class the 3D printer, Professor Kolb approached me about the possibility of doing an ACRE together and explained to me how 3D printing was being incorporated into many fields including dentistry.  Professor Kolb uses the printer to make different jewelry pieces and gave me the task of determining how I could perhaps incorporate dentistry into the research. After extensive research on the topic and speaking to local dentists, I realized that this is indeed being incorporated into dentistry. Based on articles and journals I decided it would be interesting to compare across the board the advantages and disadvantages of 3D dental models compared to traditional plaster models.  Kolb liked the idea and thus we began to formulate the goals of out ACRE.            

For our ACRE there are a variety of goals.  The first is that I will be learning how to design 3D images to print and become proficient making builds and handling the software. Besides this, I will also be comparing 3D dental models compared to traditional plaster models in various aspects. As I am working on this, Kolb will make jewelry pieces inspired by dentistry, and then we will unite to make piece for me to wear to dental school interviews.            

I am very excited for my research! I have never used the 3D imaging software so I have a lot to learn, but I am excited nonetheless. I think the hardest part of my research, besides all the quick learning I have to do, is that since 3D printing is fairly new in the dental field finding information might be challenging. Thus to compliment articles and books I read, I will also be consulting with various dentists and lab technicians as I move forward with my research.

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