The rapid development in additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies and consequent use of the STL data format in the dental and orthodontics fields has transformed how dental scans are captured and presented – but there are well known limitations with the STL format: the weak security, data quality issues and the large size of STL format files can make them difficult to work with on a daily basis. The move from physical impression techniques to the use of scanners and fully digital work-flows means finding effective and efficient ways of working with 3D scan data is crucial.

The PDF3D suite of tools overcomes these issues in just one click by taking the STL file and converting it into a rich, interactive and animated 3D PDF that can be easily annotated, and securely shared, stored and archived.

Superior Compression

A 3D PDF is roughly 20x – 25x smaller than an STL file when compressed using PDF3D ReportGen or PDF3D’s integrated PRC compression technology. Where the STL file generated from an intra-oral scan, for example, can lose metadata and context when emailed, the PDF format retains all of that important detail but in a compressed file that can be easily shared. This in turn improves communications for a faster and more efficient workflow.To see how easy it is to move from STL to using PDF with PDF3D tools take a look at our short “Getting Started: STL to PDF” video.

Annotation and Animation

While STL to PDF conversion isn’t new, the enhanced experience of 3D data within a 3D PDF file, is.  With PDF3D’s technology, dental teams can merge multiple files with independent colours, and add annotations, labels, dimensions and mesh simplification.  With progressive sequence animations that can be played back and forward at varying speeds, the interactive viewing of orthodontic treatment plans with a PDF file becomes rich and immersive far beyond that of an STL file.

Take a look at our video on merging STL files here.

Patient Data Protection and Security

At a time when patient data must be kept more secure than ever before, conversion to 3D PDF gives added peace of mind. With PDF3D tools, the conversion of STL to PDF locks down the data – with just one click the data can stored in an encrypted and password protected PDF document , even giving pre-determined password access to specific aspects of a document where required.

And with the ubiquitous PDF format being based on agreed international standards (ISO 32000-2) you can be comfortable that the patient’s data is secure and will be accessible in the future too, even when today’s latest technologies have long been superseded.

Sharing & Collaboration

With simple, automatic form scripting built-in, orthodontists can easily mark-up 3D models in the 3D PDF using Adobe Reader’s comment features. When decisions need to be made quickly, and communicated clearly and unambiguously, PDF3D Reportgen allows all users to add detail and share information or changes, fast.

Take a look at how others are using PDF3D technology in dentistry and orthodontics


How others are using 3D PDF in dentistry and orthodontics

To View 3D PDF samples, install the Adobe Reader. Click “Save As…” to save and open the PDF outside the Web browser.