The force exerted by clear orthodontic aligners decreases significantly over the first few hours of application. This phenomena is called “Stress Relaxation” and limits the treatment efficiency of clear aligners.
At Gradient, we are focused on the development of innovative materials for the fabrication of Clear Aligners with Enhanced Stress Retention, directly improving the efficiency of orthodontic treatments.
Advanced Thermoplastic Sheets
Current orthodontic aligners are mostly restricted to mild/moderate orthodontic cases. This is partially due to limitations intrinsic to the aligner materials. Unlike traditional metal braces that can exert constant forces over days to weeks, plastic aligners lose the forces as soon as they are placed into the mouth. This is caused by a phenomenon called "stress relaxation" commonly seen in orthodontic aligners. This can result in incomplete tooth movements that require new aligners to be made, or conversion to metal braces.
Our Advanced Thermoplastic Sheet is engineered specifically for reduced stress relaxation. Based on advanced materials engineering, aligners with enhanced force consistency can open a new paradigm of predictability.
Direct 3D Printed Clear Aligners
Currently, orthodontic aligners are made by thermoforming plastic sheets onto 3D printed models. These models serve no other purpose, and their disposal adds to our environmental burden. Meanwhile, the forming process posts severe constrains on the clear aligner's design, limiting their overall performance.
Gradient is developing biocompatible 3D printable materials for the direct printing of aligners, eliminating the need for aligner molds. This technology results in a much more efficient and cleaner process, while improving clear aligner performance.
Benjamin M. Wu, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Professor of Bioengineering, Dentistry, Materials Science, and Orthopedic Surgery; Chair of Advanced Prosthodontics, Director of Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology, Executive Director of Innovative Digital Dentistry Systems, CNSI Member, and Past Chairman of Bioengineering at UCLA. Dr. Wu has Co-founded multiple startups and is on the scientific advisory boards of several other companies, providing expertise on design, manufacturing, characterization, and clinical usage.
Giovanny F. Acosta-Vélez, Ph.D.
Founder and CSO
Dr. Acosta is the Chief Scientific Officer and lead inventor of Gradient Orthodontics’ technology platform. He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA, under the mentorship of Prof. Ben Wu. His expertise is in the synthesis of photocurable formulations for the 3D printing of medical devices and drug delivery systems.