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    What CAM software really does

    Jordan Greenberg of hyperDENT explains how CAM software has come into its own.

    Until recently, there hasn’t been much talk about or interest in CAM technology and its place in the dental digital workflow. Jordan Greenberg of FOLLOW-ME! Technology North America, developers of hyperDENT CAM software, discusses why that’s changing.

    How did you first become interested in dentistry?

    Jordan Greenberg: My dad, Ross Greenberg, owned and operated a dental lab near Chicago my whole life, so I always had an interest in the profession. I joined the dental business with a focus on digital technology, as my father and I started SureFit Milling Center in 2006. At this company, I handled the digital production of our zircona, wax and PMMA restorations. I also worked as the Product Manager at DATRON, which specializes in equipment for the in-house machining of implant bars and abutments. Now, I’m the Managing Director at FOLLOW-ME! Technology North America, the U.S. subsidiary of FOLLOW-ME! Technology Group GmbH. This is the company that develops, supports and services hyperDENT CAM software.

    Why is CAM software an important part of the digital workflow?

    JG: CAM software has been the unsung hero of the digital dental industry since the first milled coping came off a machine. Why? As much as new machines and design software features drive new applications and materials, CAM software is the glue that holds the entire CAD/CAM process together. It translates your 3D design files into a language the mill can understand. If a lab or milling center is having trouble with milling times, tool breakage or finish quality, these are all issues that can be addressed in the CAM software.

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    However, people have only recently started to ask questions about CAM. Until now, this software was typically part of a closed system or a pre-configured system with each element chosen by a distributor, so labs and milling centers rarely made a conscious decision regarding CAM. We’re very familiar with this situation, because hyperDENT was the toolpath generating software within the KaVo, 3M and Amann Girrbach systems.

    Why is CAM becoming a recognizable CAD/CAM element?

    JG: I can think of a few main reasons: 1. Labs are starting to figure out ways to identify problems on their own, 2. They’re evaluating new ways to increase efficiency in their workflow, and 3. They’re looking for ways to differentiate their digital product offerings from other labs and milling centers.

    Regarding the first point, with a closed system, you’re limited by the features developed by the system manufacturer. Now users are exploring new solutions on their own. We receive a lot of requests like, “I want better occlusal detail and you can’t add a smaller tool into my machine” or “I want to start using a new material but my existing templates can’t mill it properly.” They’re starting to ask, “where in the process is my problem, why am I experiencing this problem, and what can I do to achieve the results I desire?” On the other hand, with system configurators that have chosen an open CAM solution, they are not just fixing the issues for their customers, but they’re helping them understand where these problems exist and how their adjustments will fix them.
    I’m also seeing customers evaluating new ways to increase efficiency in their workflow. As the connecting piece between the design and milling processes, the CAM component can become a bottleneck if it’s not easy to use, efficient and high performance (with regard to calculation time).

    As for the last point, CAM is the most effective place to customize your milled products. For example, most crowns are designed with a high level of occlusal detail—so why does this not automatically translate to a milled part with the same detail as the design? The limitation exists in the diameter of your smallest tool or the parameters in your milling strategy that define the final depth of cut. Both of these elements are accounted for in the CAM software.

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