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    13 things for labs to look forward to in 2018

    In the new year, labs can expect advances in technology, materials and the lab business itself.


    11. 3D printing ceramics

    The materials used for 3D printing are expected to improve, in general, but Marks looks specifically to ceramics and how it might evolve the dental industry.

    “We will start to see, although probably not marketable in dentistry, development on the side of ceramic 3D printing,” Marks says. “It’s already possible. There’s already one company called Xiet, and it will be very interesting to see where that goes and how it relates to our industry.”

    12. Digital impressions

    Over the past year, Shaun Keating, owner of Keating Dental Arts in Irvine, Calif., has seen an increase in doctors who submit digital impressions. He expects that number to get even bigger.

    More from the author: 10 reasons to be thankful for your lab's customers

    “We are averaging five to 10 doctors each month sending us digital impressions,” Keating says. “We’re just so excited about that because it is so accurate. We’re up to about 60, 70 doctors now and each week we’re just getting more and more. It’s just amazing how, in all my years, it’s been kind of slow — get a doctor here or there, maybe — but we’re getting so many that are just converting.”

    Those digital impressions are leading to more wholly digital workflows.

    “We’re getting a lot of stuff through email,” Keating says. “We are doing a lot of modeless stuff. We are making models for a lot of the doctors that are sending in their impression scans, but it seems more and more are going with the modeless routine. It’s really exciting.”

    13. Industry growth

    At the end of the day, the dental lab business is just that: a business. And in 2018, Keating looks forward to building off of one of his most successful years.

    “We had almost our highest sales year ever,” Keating says. “I can’t wait for the new year, just to see what we can do it and keep growing.”

    Thanks to an improved economy, doctors are seeing more patients. And, as a result, that equates to more work for labs.

    “It seems like doctors have more patients seeing them,” Keating says. “It seems like the economy’s doing a little bit better. It seems like we’re busier and our doctors are all up percentage wise.”

    With the new year comes the opportunity for new areas of growth. That is certainly the case for dental labs, who can look forward to seeing advances in technology, materials and the lab business itself.

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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