10 Questions: CADBlu Dental

Digital Esthetics, Dental Lab Products-2012-04-01, Issue 4

01. How did CADBlu first enter the dental market?

01. How did CADBlu first enter the dental market?

In 2002 we had several clients that were manufacturing grills for rappers. We were approached by one who was doing quite a few of these, and they were hand waxing them on dental models. We looked at that process and  developed a solution that’s similar to what’s done today. They would scan the models and then we had some software written where they could design the grill. We met 3Shape for the first time, and this was the beginning for them too, as part of creating that solution. That was our introduction to dental. However, we really got interested in providing solutions to the dental industry when we started working with the R&D team at Glidewell. Besides selling Glidewell their first printer, we also put the Roland mills in as a solution for faster wax production. The light bulb went on when we saw what Glidewell was doing. We didn’t fully understand teeth until that point.

02. What do you view as CADBlu’s role in the industry today?

We were one of the innovators. CADBlu came out with one of the first truly open systems. We had a vision of what was coming. You could see that eventually milling centers were going to be a thing of the past and people would be able to afford their own mills and use them cost effectively. We never saw the outsourcing business model as a long-term solution.

03. How do you leverage CADBlu’s knowledge from the jewelry industry to benefit your dental customers?

We started in the jewelry industry, but we consider ourselves to be a CAD/CAM and RP company. The interesting thing is that there is not any other industry that uses scan data to design in the proportions that the dental industry does. CAD/CAM is a bit more push-button for dentistry because it is based on that scan data. We leverage our CAD/CAM knowledge and understanding of the output devices and we know how to think outside the box. People come to us because we are able to create “beyond” push-button solutions. It’s important to see that you’re not stuck in one place, but you can take this technology and do other things with it. Even things you can’t imagine yet.

04. Why are open architecture systems important to labs today?

In the beginning it was more scary for people to go open because (with closed) they had someone who could hold their hands through the whole process. In the open segment they didn’t believe there was somebody like that. We have proven that being open can still mean someone provides a total solution to you and can help you put all the pieces together. Open is important because things change and you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You need the ability to adapt to the materials of today and the possibilities of tomorrow. I think open means open for the future.

05. What sets CADBlu apart from other companies selling similar solutions?

Service, service, service. We were one of the first vendors of 3Shape, so we have people who are really experienced using the system. You’re putting your trust in a company and you need someone who will be ready to provide service quickly in the event your machine breaks. We have a loaner system on our scanners where we overnight a loaner scanner to you if your scanner breaks. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all 3Shape scanners are sold truly open. It’s important to know a 3Shape purchased from CADBlu is totally open. You are free to deal with whomever you would like and we can integrate you with anybody who also offers an open solution, as well as many closed ones. We are different from the pack because we know CAD/CAM beyond dental CAD/CAM and we feel that affords us a vantage point most companies do not possess.

06. What do you look for in the systems you sell and service?

Commitment to innovation in the industry-like what 3Shape has today-and a commitment to move the product forward. We want to be able to service everything directly so our partners need to have the ability to train my people well. As long as everything revolves around an open STL file we’re able to tie everything together. We constantly assess the many different options available. We’re always testing if something’s better, cheaper, easier to use. Ultimately, though, we are looking for strong partnerships where we all work to together for the success of our customers.

07. How do you choose the companies you partner with to develop new products?

They pick us because we have a reputation for thinking outside of the box. A lot of the companies that partner with us are looking for solutions that are really specialized. Some companies just want to work with a company that will provide service and be a good partner to them. For those reasons they pick CADBlu, and then of course we need to pick them. As an example we just partnered with Nobilium. It’s been fantastic because when we do a partial RPD installation they come in at the same time with their materials and dial in the casting at the same time we dial in our equipment. Those kind of partnerships are very good because everyone benefits.

08. Is there a CAD/CAM system that will fit every lab’s operations?

I’ve been surprised at some of the smaller labs investing in higher production equipment and being very successful at using it to increase their business. Of course that is not for everybody, but with our new ezMill even a very small lab can benefit. With this system, if you’re doing 10 units a day, we can show a very good return on investment and make it worthwhile. We can prove that bringing manufacturing in house is going to be a very valuable thing. With the advent of oral scanners, dental laboratories will need something to read the data and design to be able to compete in the future. The mill ties in with this because you have the flexibility to produce a lot of different materials. You can do wax-ups, temporaries, full-contour zirconia and other newer products beginning to hit the market. It gives you one system that can supplement all the things you do in a day and cover a good portion of your production.

09. Most of the systems you offer come from other companies. Why did you launch the ezMill as a CADBlu device?

We’re actually starting to move toward the CADBlu brand. People know us now, there’s some credibility in this name and people know us for our service and our brand says it’s a great product. We’ve branded our own zirconia and PMMA, and our waxes are all going to be branded. There’s probably a future of more branding with CADBlu on it where we’ll take ownership. We need to be the first line of support and hopefully the last line of support, so we’re taking that full responsibility.

10. What’s next for digital dental lab technology and CADBlu?

In this all-digital workflow labs will still need to be able to send restorations back to their clients and know that everything fits. The next big thing CADBlu is concentrating on is model building and model printing machines, and how to leverage that technology to its best potential. Digital dental will definitely take another step forward with things like surgical guides in the next year or so. Things will continue to integrate, and a lot of it will start at the intraoral scanner. Down the line it will be more and more data flow and the ability to use data around the world. The ability to leverage digital data is really the thing of the future.