Conventional manufacturing of individual ceramic dental prosthesis implies a handmade metallic framework, which is then veneered with ceramic layers. In order to manufacture all-ceramic dental prosthesis a CAD/CAM system is necessary due to the three dimensional shaping of high strength ceramics. Most CAD/CAM systems presently grind blocks of ceramic after the construction process in order to create the prosthesis. Using high-strength ceramics, such as Hot Isostatic Pressed (HIP)-zirconia, this is limited to copings. Anatomically shaped fixed dentures have a sculptured surface with small details, which can't be created by existing grinding tools. This procedure is also time consuming and subject to significant loss in mechanical strength and thus reduced survival rate once inserted. Ultra-short laser pulses offer a possibility in machining highly complex sculptured surfaces out of high-strength ceramic with negligible damage to the surface and bulk of the ceramic. In order to determine efficiency, quality and damage, several laser ablation parameters such as pulse duration, pulse energy and ablation strategies were studied. The maximum ablation rate was found using 400 fs at high pulse energies. High pulse energies such as 200μJ were used with low damage in mechanical strength compared to grinding. Due to the limitation of available laser systems in pulse repetition rates and power, the use of special ablation strategies provide a possibility to manufacture fully ceramic dental prosthesis efficiently.
Creating individual complex three dimensional structures in HIP-zirconia by conventional mechanical machining, e.g. milling, is time consuming and subject to significant loss in bending strength due to microcracking during the milling process. Utilizing ultra-short laser pulses, individual complex three dimensional microstructures can be created very precisely without significant damage to the structure. This advantage is used to process HIP-zirconia in order to create dental restorations. To evaluate efficiency and quality, different laser parameters such as pulse duration, pulse energy and ablation strategies were studied. The maximum ablation rate was found at 400 fs.