The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Medical Devices: Tooth 3D Printing.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, 3D printed prosthesis and robotic 3D bio-printing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Sharps disposal containers, therapy compliance monitoring systems, and driver health monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bio-compatible surgical adjuncts and bio-active prosthesis sealing, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the medical devices industry 

Tooth 3D printing is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Tooth 3D printing is the creation of dental implants and crowns using 3D printing technology. The shape, size, colour, and position of the artificial tooth or crown are all precisely crafted to ensure a perfect match and the process yields a final product that is indistinguishable from the natural teeth. This technology replaces the conventional methods, as they produced significantly faster and more accurate complex implants/crowns with simplicity leading to time savings, more accurate surgery, and faster recovery times.

The strengths of 3D printing technologies include great material usage and the capacity to construct a single complicated shape. Nevertheless, high cost and time-consuming postprocessing are the disadvantages.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of tooth 3D printing.

Key players in tooth 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to tooth 3D printing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Carbon 56 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 49 Unlock company profile
Mitsui Chemicals 35 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 30 Unlock company profile
Organovo Holdings 21 Unlock company profile
Stryker 21 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 21 Unlock company profile
Orthopaedic Innovation Centre 21 Unlock company profile
DWS 21 Unlock company profile
Emanate Biomedical 20 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 20 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 17 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 16 Unlock company profile
Bremer Goldschlagerei Wilh. Herbst 16 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 16 Unlock company profile
Ricoh 16 Unlock company profile
Siemens 15 Unlock company profile
Structo 13 Unlock company profile
Particle3D 11 Unlock company profile
LightForce Orthodontics 11 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 10 Unlock company profile
3Shape 10 Unlock company profile
Shofu 10 Unlock company profile
Orfit Industries 10 Unlock company profile
Karl Leibinger 10 Unlock company profile
3D Systems 10 Unlock company profile
ODP 10 Unlock company profile
3M 9 Unlock company profile
Establishment Labs Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
ArchForm 9 Unlock company profile
RAG-Stiftung 9 Unlock company profile
Mecuris 9 Unlock company profile
Ivoclar Vivadent 9 Unlock company profile
Biocomposites 9 Unlock company profile
BellaSeno 8 Unlock company profile
Bone3D 8 Unlock company profile
Dreve Otoplastik 8 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 7 Unlock company profile
WS Audiology 7 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 6 Unlock company profile
Olympus 6 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 6 Unlock company profile
Agada Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Covestro 5 Unlock company profile
E. Merck 5 Unlock company profile
Arkema 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Carbon is one of the leading patent filers in the field of tooth 3D printing. Some other key patent filers in the field include Align Technology, Mitsui Chemicals, Medtronic, Stryker, and Organovo.

In terms of application diversity, Becton Dickinson leads the pack, followed by Particle 3D and Stryker, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Berkshire Hathaway held the top position, followed by DWS and Structo in second and third spots.

The future trend of 3D printing in dentistry will be the development of new materials and technology, and there is no doubt that 3D printing has a bright future. Tooth 3D printing is likely to be in demand in future as it not only provides customised and personalised patient-fit implants and crowns, but also produces more stable and sterile structures, considering the oral cavity is exposed to substances such as mouthwashes, toothpastes, and food substance. It provides considerable cost savings for the dentist, by increasing the throughput of patients with less time wasted.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.