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    9 things you REALLY need to know about digital imaging

    Unpacking terms like open, closed and everything in-between.


    STL Files

    In order for open systems to share information, they must utilize understandable file formats. For instance, the de facto word processing document is the .docx format. In the CAD/CAM world, it is currently the STL file.

    “That open standard is really critical to allow all of this interoperability,” Coonradt says. “The labs we talk to tell us that it can be a real challenge to have a closed CAD system, whether that’s an intraoral scanner or a benchtop scanner, because they often can’t take a certain file through their preferred workflow.”

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    While the STL file format allows communication between different vendors’ devices, it is not perfect. The STL format is used for most CAD/CAM files, regardless of the industry. Many in the industry are pushing for an open format unique to dental work. Coonradt notes that 3M is supporting the development of the UDX standard, a standard being developed by the Open Exchange Dental Interoperability Group (OXDIG). Ultimately, Coonradt says he believes interoperability is inevitable.

    “We’re going to see some phases in this transition like we’ve seen in other industries,” Coonradt says. “First of all, we’ll see silos of information crop up, and it’s very much on the consumer, in this case, the lab, to try and get those silos to talk to each other. 3M is pushing toward the second phase; we’re working together with other manufacturers to get these isolated silos of data to talk to each other. We call these Trusted Connections. This phase often requires a great degree of technical work to get the different systems communicating reliably. We’re looking forward toward the third phase—more of a standards-based approach—where interoperability becomes easier because everyone’s systems are essentially speaking the same language.”

    Continue to page seven for more...


    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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