Dental materials for the biomedical sector

The Fraunhofer ISC has been setting standards for dental products in the fields of restoration and prophylaxis for decades

Contract research in cooperation with dental companies on hybrid polymers and glass ceramics developed and patented in-house has led to the launch of products such as ceram.x®, Admira®, Admira® Fusion, Admira® Fusion x-tra, Admira® Fusion x-base, SUPRINITY® PC, Celtra® and CEREC Tessera. Our goal has always been to stay one step ahead of the current product generation.
To achieve this, we use state-of-the-art synthesis processes to design our materials according to the desired requirements (e.g. biocompatible, biodegradable, PFAS-free or generally fluoride-free). In addition, our materials are chemically, physically and biologically characterized for specific applications and can be processed using various structuring and forming methods.

A logical next step was to leverage the unique properties of our dental materials in terms of biocompatibility, physiological resistance to biodegradation, shaping, processing, strength and elastomechanical properties for other biomedical applications.
Especially for complex requirements in the implant field (e.g. menisci, intervertebral discs, bioactive bone replacement, biomimetic implant systems), we can offer material solutions that are a decisive step ahead of the competition.

Challenge us!

Materials and areas of application

Glass-ceramics - new properties thanks to semi-crystalline glass

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Glass-ceramics are produced by (partial) crystallization of special glasses. Due to the usually very fine microstructure, new combinations of properties can be created that significantly expand the field of glasses and ceramics. For example, glass-ceramics can achieve flexural strengths that are higher than all the individual phases themselves.

Since chemical resistance, color and translucency can also be adjusted, glass-ceramics are particularly suitable for use as dental materials.

The Fraunhofer ISC has developed a dental glass ceramic that can be processed chairside into crowns and bridges using CAD-CAM methods. In 2019, ISC scientists were awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize "Technology for People" for their commercial success.

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ORMOCER® − ORganically MOdified CERamics

Additive manufacturing with ORMOCER®
© Fraunhofer ISC

A class of materials with diverse properties

ORMOCER® materials are hybrid polymers that contain both inorganic and organic components. These polymers enable the integration of functional groups during synthesis, allowing for the combination of different properties. Photopolymerizable resins can be used to produce prototypes in the dental and medical sectors in a time-saving and cost-effective manner, with a wide range of attributes using various 3D printing processes.

Bioactive glasses and glass-ceramics

Bioactive glass implantology
© freepik

Versatile use in implantology

Glass is an excellent starting material for 3D-manufactured, patient-specific implants due to its versatile shape. The Fraunhofer ISC has extensively researched and broadened the range of shapes of biocompatible or bioactive glass, creating new possibilities in biomedical applications. Our focus is not only on glass-based material concepts, but also on utilizing innovative technologies such as 3D printing to explore the full potential of composite materials. Targeted crystallization offers new and exciting application possibilities by optimally utilizing the advantages of two material classes: the shaping versatility of glasses and the mechanical and optical properties of ceramics.

Our developed glass systems have a wide range of applications, including

  • 3D scaffolds
  • Particulate cell growth substrates
  • Patient-specific implants

Of course, this is just a sampling. We look forward to being inspired by your innovative ideas and working with you to develop the optimum solution for your or your customers' material requirements.

Let us show you the advantages of bioglasses such as

  • Free-form surfaces
  • Variable functional porosity
  • Customizable chemical composition
  • Microstructurability
  • Targeted biodegradability             

    in your specific application.

Biodegradable materials

Biodegradable materials ORMOCER®
© Fraunhofer ISC

ORMOCER®-based degradable material systems

Biodegradable materials are of particular interest for medical applications, for example as scaffolds for stents. Since both the mechanical properties and the degradation rate can be tuned by the chemical structure, applications outside the medical sector are also conceivable.


Flexible materials

The use of Digital Light Processing (DLP) makes it possible to process flexible ORMOCER® material systems. This makes it possible to create complex structures and geometries, resulting in a wide range of applications such as bite guards or aligners.

ORMOCER® Material System Flexible Cylinder
© Fraunhofer ISC
3D-printed teeth straightening splint
© Fraunhofer ISC
ORMOCER® Material System Flexible Ball Structure
© Fraunhofer ISC

Flexible materials with thermal effect

It is also possible to combine flexible ORMOCER® material systems with a thermal effect, which greatly expands the range of applications for these materials. The softening point can be adjusted over a wide temperature range by specifically modifying the chemical structure. This allows, for example, a hard consistency at room temperature and a soft consistency at body temperature for comfortable earmould wear and easy handling.

Thermal effect sketch
© Fraunhofer ISC
ORMOCER® material system Thermoeffect Otoplasty
© Fraunhofer ISC

High-strength materials

Glass ceramics High-strength materials
© Fraunhofer ISC

In glass-ceramics, crystals are grown from the initial glass using temperature programs, resulting in a structure that contains glassy and crystalline components. By controlling the temperature process, the size and number of crystals, and therefore the property profile of the resulting material, can be adjusted. This makes it possible to produce materials with high mechanical properties such as hardness, strength, modulus of elasticity and crack resistance. If the crystals are small enough or the "residual glass" is matched to the refractive index of the crystalline phase, these materials are also transparent and can be used for optical applications such as lenses.

3D printing

Fraunhofer ISC / W2P Engineering GmbH
© Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

DLP uses photopolymerizable resins to print components layer by layer from a material tray. The simultaneous curing of the entire layer means that the printing time is independent of the number and complexity of the components, resulting in enormous time savings compared to other printing processes. Compared to conventional milling or cutting processes, digital light processing can also save a significant amount of material, and new 3D printable and biocompatible materials or composites offer new solutions to various biomedical challenges.

3D bioprinting
© Fraunhofer ISC

3D Bioprinting

3D bioprinting is an innovative process that uses living cells and biomaterials to print three-dimensional tissue structures. This approach has the potential to revolutionize medicine and pharmacy by enabling the production of customized tissues and even organs in the future. By combining biology, engineering, and materials science, bioprinting opens new avenues for tissue regeneration, drug development, and disease understanding.

We offer to test print your materials and inks using a variety of additive manufacturing techniques in our bioprinting facility. Combine materials, printing and biology in one step!


Composite dental block
© Fraunhofer ISC

Extrusion is ideal for the fully automated production of high quality composite blocks. The entire process, from the mixing of the raw materials to the finished blocks, is carried out in a continuous process without separate mixing units or manual shaping. This provides the advantage of efficient and consistent production.


Graphite blocks as dental material
© Fraunhofer ISC

Glass-ceramic materials are usually fabricated as solid bodies to take advantage of the manufacturing benefits of glass. Homogeneous, dense and transparent samples are obtained. For the production of dental blocks for CAD/CAM applications, blocks of various defined sizes are required. Casting in graphite molds is ideal because glass does not usually wet graphite and there is no surface reaction. This means that the initial glass blocks can be easily removed from the crucibles and a visually clean surface is achieved.

Biomimetic applications

"Biomimetics" means imitating nature. At the Fraunhofer ISC, for example, natural structures are being studied using new materials.
The ORMOCER® material class developed at the ISC and glass-ceramics can be used to produce interesting composites, i.e. combinations of the two materials. For example, the structure of a natural tooth, which is not monolithic, can be imitated by replacing the softer dentin with an adapted ORMOCER® and the harder enamel with an optimized glass-ceramic. In this way, the high crack tolerance of the natural tooth can be biomimetically reproduced.

The structure of the enamel can also be biomimetically combined with ORMOCER® and glass-ceramic

ORMOCER® based composites

ORMOCER®-based composites for dental medicine
© AdobeStock

Composites are an important part of dentistry. They are used as filling materials and sometimes for indirect restorations.

Dental composites based on ORMOCER® material offer several advantages over purely organic systems:

  • The monomer-free matrix system ensures a biocompatible material base.
  • The inorganic content results in low polymerization shrinkage and high abrasion resistance.
  • The mechanical properties can be tailored by introducing different functional groups.

Your contact

Rick Niebergall

Contact Press / Media

Rick Niebergall

Head of Glass Technology

Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC
Neunerplatz 2
97082 Würzburg, Germany

Phone +49 931 4100-252

Jörn Probst

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Jörn Probst

Head of Biomaterials and Strategic Development

Fraunhofer Translational Center Regenerative Therapies TLC-RT
Neunerplatz 2
97082 Würzburg, Germany

Phone +49 931 4100-300