Orthodontists are the experts; they’re the ones who know whose good candidate for braces, what people need to help with their dental issues, that sort of thing. A startup in Redwood City, California, developed software to let these experts develop and manufacture clear aligners for patients via a 3D printer.
The startup, uLab Systems, is unlike most startups, in that they recognize the expertise of orthodontists when it comes to dental care and candidate for braces, and leaves it to them to come up with treatment plans and the like during a visit.
The startup’s latest funding round was led by hedge fund Park West Asset Management, with additional support coming from minority investors like Ortho Studio Express.
uLab CTO Charlie Wen issued on the statement on the matter, saying that they’re excited for what lies in the future for the startup as they move forward, advancing the aligner industry to provide better options, both for orthodontics and patients. Moreover, Wen stated that they’re happy to welcome Park West as a partner as they work to put control of the treatment plan back into the hands of the orthodontists; the hands of the experts, where they say it belong.
Claims from the company say that they allow orthodontists to make treatment plans in less than 10 minutes thanks to their software. Those with 3D printers within their orthodontist offices can print the aligners out themselves, the company says, which would allow patients to get the aligners that they need within the same day as the appointment.
uLab Systems has been working on promoting itself as a good in-office option, an alternative to direct-to-consumer aligner companies and startups, which have taken some heat recently due to orthodontists and dental groups saying that they can’t provide proper consultation and assessment to patients that go to these companies. In September, orthodontists and a group of patients even filed a class action lawsuit against SmileDirectClub.
uLab was founded back in 2015, and has about 250 orthodontists using its proprietary systems. The company also recently received a 510k clearance from the FDA back in 2018.