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Summer Science Exhibition 2009

The Chewing Robot: a new biologically-inspired way to test dental materials









The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Selected dental restorative materials and their raw material (Image © Daniel Raabe, 2009).

Researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol and Bristol Dental School have developed a sophisticated new robotic wear simulator to evaluate restorative materials used to treat dental problems.

Despite the UK spending an enormous amount on dental materials and their research, it was found to be too expensive and time consuming to clinically test materials on people to see which worked best.

"This new robotic simulator can speed up the process to show quickly which materials work best and how to develop and improve others," says Mr Daniel Raabe from the University of Bristol.

Previous methods used to test dental materials outside the human mouth were not natural enough to reflect true human conditions and different simulators often showed inconsistent results. This new simulator can mimic the forces and dynamics sustained by human teeth within the mouth, accurately reflecting the kind of damage and wear materials will undergo. Crowns, bridges or single artificial teeth can all be tested and evaluated quickly.

"This new robot could help the dental industry dramatically improve the process of developing new dental materials. This illustrates how engineering can identify and replicate key features from nature to develop new technologies which benefit people all over the world," says Daniel.

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  • Professor Stuart Burgess, Dr Kazem Alemzadeh, Dr Anthony Ireland, Dr Andrew Harrison, Mr Daniel Raabe and Ms Lin Wang, University of Bristol

See all exhibits from 2009

The Chewing Robot: a new biologically-inspired way to test dental materials The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK