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A little more than 2 years ago, an engineer at 3M ESPE put out a challenge to the rest of the team. He wanted to find a way to use consumer technology to revolutionize the digital impression industry. That’s exactly what the team of about 8 core people did, with, of course, help from others on the 3M ESPE team. Here, Shannon Scott, Senior Systems Engineer, tells us about the process and what makes the 3M™ True Definition Scanner such an important advancement in dentistry.
A little more than 2 years ago, an engineer at 3M ESPE put out a challenge to the rest of the team.
He wanted to find a way to use consumer technology to revolutionize the digital impression industry. That’s exactly what the team of about 8 core people did, with, of course, help from others on the 3M ESPE team. Here, Shannon Scott, Senior Systems Engineer, tells us about the process and what makes the 3M™ True Definition Scanner such an important advancement in dentistry.
Q: What was your involvement in this product’s development?
A: I’m the software team lead and a system architect. My job is to coordinate a lot of the technical effort to make sure all the pieces fit together. I don’t do a lot of the detail work but I make sure all the details line up.
Q: How did the idea for the 3M True Definition Scanner come about?
A: It actually came from an idea one of the engineers had. He wanted to find a way to leverage new technology to miniaturize the wand in a way that wouldn’t have been possible 4 or 5 years ago because the technology wasn’t there yet. It started as more of a challenge. An engineer named Ben said, “I think we can do it. It will be tough but it will be possible.” So it started as an experiment and grew from there. It quickly became clear we were on to something, that there really was something there. It was presented to management, management liked the idea and it turned into the 3M True Definition Scanner.
Watch the video below to see a step-by-step demonstration of a live-patient crown restoration using the 3M True Definition Scanner and Trifecta Restorative Method.
Technological advances in sensors and optics are closely related to what we’re doing. We were seeing technological advances in those areas and realized we could take this next step. From a technological perspective, the 3M True Definition Scanner is really taking digital scanning to the next level and leverages a lot of technological advances that actually came from consumer photography. That market has driven technology in sensors and small optics. It’s become more sophisticated, and we used that technology in the 3M True Definition Scanner.
Q: What is your favorite feature?
A: The wand. We went out of our way to make it robust. That’s a huge step that’s possible because of the simplified optics and sensor package. A dental office is somewhat of a hostile environment. Tools are to be used, not to be coddled. The new system, I believe, will fit into that workflow better. You don’t have to worry that you’re holding a fragile object that might break. You’re holding a tool that gets the job done.
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten from dentists?
A: We’re getting a lot of good feedback. They’re saying the accuracy is better than the old system. We wanted to make an extremely accurate system. The robustness and accuracy are closely tied together, so by making it more robust we made it more accurate. Things are just working. We’re also getting good feedback about the interface. We did a complete hardware re-design. There’s a new cart, a new wide screen monitor. People seem to be happy about that.
We have a team of smart people working on improving usability-faster scanning, faster turnaround time, simplified workflows. It’s a continual process and we’re continuously improving. We can always improve. If we ever stop doing that there’s a problem.
Q: What did you like most about being on this project?
A: This has been one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on. This is a great team. We’ve achieved all of our goals. I’ve seen a lot of projects in my career go badly and this was a project that went really well, and it was really exciting to be part of that. We pushed for cutting edge technology and any time you do that you inherently take on a lot of risk. We’re selling a product so we have to mitigate all that risk. To tackle those challenges and overcome them is, from a technological perspective, very exciting. And the fact we did this in two years speaks very well of the team.
The 3M™ True Definition Scanner provides predictable clinical outcomes with powerful tools that create a better patient experience and improved productivity. The scanner is reportedly more accurate and more consistently accurate than leading scanners on the market. Designed without fragile moving parts, the 3M True Definition Scanner wand never needs calibrating and is light and balanced like a handpiece. The scanner features powerful and accurate “3D-in-motion” video technology and is supported by an open and secure cloud-based platform, providing doctors and dental labs more ways to store, share and connect files. The economical 3M True Definition Scanner is said to be a smart investment for any dental practice-whether well-established or just starting out.