One of the mysteries of nature, solved just a few years ago,
involved the mouthpart or beak of the ordinary octopus. This is
the hardest substance in the animal's body, and it is the ONLY
hard substance in the animal's body. Any hole that the beak can
fit through, the entire octopus can fit
through. But how is that
beak attached to the octopus, such that it doesn't rip directly
from otherwise-soft tissues? See the squid-beak link for details;
the answer applies to the octopus, too.
The Idea here is that we apply that answer to the realm of
denture-manufacturing, and do it inexpensively by using 3D
printing technology, in the following generic way.
First we laser-scan the patient's mouth, to determine the
shape the dentures need to be, to fit perfectly. Dentures are
traditionally expensive because each has to be unique; every
mouth is different in its fine details.
Next, we feed that data to a 3D printer, with a very soft plastic
as its "stock" for making stuff. For the purposes of this
presentation, I'm going to talk about tenth-millimeter
in terms of layers of plastic --3D printers can actually make
things using finer layers than that, and in practice we might
need to do denture-manufacturing with finer layers.
The first layer, with that very-soft plastic, is the layer that
directly contact the gums in the mouth of the patient, and
must fit perfectly on one side. (This layer might need to be
thicker than 1/10 mm; more on this later.) On the
side, we can start to balance-out the bumps and depressions.
The next layer uses a slightly harder plastic, and of course must
fit the first layer precisely, but doesn't need to fit the gums of
the patient. We can even-out the bumps and depressions some
Repeat for a few more layers, of increasingly-hard plastic. We
should now have a pretty-even layer, upon which to build the
teeth of the dentures.
Using the hardest plastic of the sequence, all the layers needed
construct the teeth are built up. When done, the overall
construction can be removed from the printer, cleaned, and the
able to start wearing it immediately.
Note that one of the other features of octopus biology is the
"sucker", of which there are very-many on its tentacles. This
very-soft biological substance can firmly grip things, and the
design of the sucker was the inspiration for human devices that,
for example, are attached to toy darts and shot from toy guns
If that first perfectly-fitting layer of softest plastic, in the
construction of these
dentures, is pliable enough, it should be able to vacuum-stick to
the gum-regions of the
without need of any ordinary denture adhesive.