Amos Dudley, a 24-year-old student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wanted to improve his smile and get his teeth properly aligned. Unfortunately, being a poor college student, he didn’t have nearly the amount of money it would take to get traditional braces. So, Dudley decided to tackle a DIY project and make his own.
According to his blog post, Dudley used a 3D printer to create 12 sets of braces that he would wear for a total of 16 weeks. Basically, he modeled the process Invisalign uses to create its clear retainers. It cost less than $60 and the end result is pretty impressive.
The main goal for Dudley was to confidently smile using all his teeth, and we can surely say he achieved that goal. Dudley wrote in his blog post, “I feel like I can freely smile again. That’s what’s most important.”
Clear braces or retainers, like Invisalign, can get really expensive with costs ranging up to $8,000. After Dudley looked at images of the clear braces, he realized they look like something that could be created from a 3D printer.
So the next step for Dudley was to go to the 3D printing lab on campus. According to CNN Money, he created 12 non-toxic plastic molds of his teeth and used animation to determine how each tooth should be moved so they wind up in the right spot after 16 weeks.
Dudley told BuzzFeed that the project wasn’t just about saving money and wanted to take on challenge no one has likely done.
“When I realized that I could do something that was a little bit culturally disruptive, while demonstrating my skills as a designer and a maker, and fixing something that was making me self-conscious for virtually free, I felt it was more than worth the risk,” he said.
It’s important to note that Dudley does not recommend attempting this. It’s a job better left to the professionals and could have major consequences if not done correctly.