NSK Innovation in Dental Handpiece Technology: Reimagining What a Bearing Can Do
Some people have perfect teeth. For the rest of us, at some point in our lives we will need to get a cavity filled. You will sit down in the chair, your dentist will pull out a dental handpiece, powered by compressed air spinning a turbine, and insert it in your mouth. You will hear a light buzzing noise “bzz bzzzt bzzz” as the decay is drilled away, and shortly after you will have a shiny new filling.
Air turbine dental handpieces are a vital tool in maintaining oral health, and NSK recently launched the QuickStopBearing™, a significant innovation in handpiece technology.
Today we talk to NSK engineers on the project to learn more about the benefits to the patient and the dentist and find out what it takes to bring change to a long-established dental tool.
A Bearing that Opens and Closes with Compressed Air?
Modern air turbine handpieces have been in use for over 50 years, and many companies have improved on the original design over time. Despite the maturity of the technology, NSK has achieved another design innovation by creating the QuickStopBearing that features a seal that opens and closes with compressed air. By completely reimagining the role of the bearing within the handpiece, we could deliver significant benefits to dentists, patients, and handpiece manufacturers alike, enhancing ease of operation, safety, and hygiene.
We wanted to develop a bearing that goes beyond the typical role of providing smooth rotation, and ultimately struck upon the idea of the QuickStopBearing that also functions as a brake. By creating a seal that can open when operation starts and close to stop rotation, we could provide an essential dental handpiece safety feature through the bearing, eliminating the need for a separate braking mechanism. This enables handpiece manufacturers to create advanced handpiece designs with fewer parts.
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