Justin Marks, CDT is the Founder and CEO of Arfona Printing, a leader in 3D printing technologies for dental prosthetics. An accomplished dental technician, educator, and lab owner, Justin has lectured and taught courses on digital dentistry and removable prosthodontics in more than 40 countries. Since 2008 Justin has dedicated the majority of his career to applying computer-aided design and 3D printing technologies to removable prosthodontics and is credited with the invention of the world’s first 3D printed flexible partial denture. Justin holds his board certification as a dental technician in the complete and partial denture specialties and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Pace University with a BBA in marketing and management.
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Justin: In 2008 I saw the first system for 3D printed wax patterns of partial denture frameworks for metal casting at the Chicago Midwinter Dental Meeting. My mind was blown! I was relatively new to the dental industry but I had never seen anything like it. I was working for a denture materials company at that time and I knew right then and there that we had to start working on a way to skip past the resin pattern stage and go straight to direct 3D printing of dentures.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in dental 3D printing?
Justin: The firm belief that 3D printing is the only path forward to making restorative dentistry affordable to the entire global population. Analog dental lab processes are antiquated and not well suited for scalability as can be evidenced by the current shortage of dental lab technicians.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing?
Justin: All of the pioneers in digital dentistry who have worked tirelessly to bring 3D scanning, CAD design, and 3D printing from concept to reality.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Justin: Knowing that the work we do has a direct impact on the quality of people’s lives and is solving the very real problem of people who cannot afford to replace their missing teeth.
Jenny: What is the biggest obstacle in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Justin: The biggest obstacle has been needing to develop custom solutions at every step along the way. Due to the novelty of our product (3D printed partial dentures) the development process had to include custom hardware, materials, software, and production facilities. As with most 3D printing applications in the professional space, there are very few “turnkey” or “off the shelf” solutions that work right out of the box – most require some degree of development and/or customization.
Jenny: What do you think are the biggest challenges in dental 3D printing?
Justin: I think that most of the challenges are in the area of material science. As exciting as 3D printing is, the medical device field is highly regulated and we have to be careful not to sacrifice long-term performance, safety, and efficacy with materials and processes that are easier to use, convenient, and economical. The transition to digital has to be done responsibility or it will have a very limited future.
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?
- An overnight solution to climate change
- An Arfona partial denture in every mouth with missing teeth
- Front row seats to a concert with Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Wes Montgomery
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Justin: I teach as an adjunct at the City University of New York and we have the largest restorative dentistry program in the country. I am very open with students in letting them know there are certain things they have to learn as part of the curriculum that is antiquated but mandated in order to maintain our credentials as an accredited program. It is up to the student to spend enough time learning about the industry (externships, lectures, tradeshows, etc.) prior to graduating so that they can put themselves on a successful career track and make themselves relevant as employees.