5 CAD features to consider—BEFORE you buy

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Dental Lab Products explains what to look for in a CAD system before you buy it.

Buying a CAD system is no longer an option for most lab owners-it's a cost of doing business. And while the consequences of making an uninformed decision are no longer as drastic as they were a few years ago (thanks to better open support systems), it's still important to do your homework before you make such a huge purchase. After all, knowing what you're looking for from the beginning can be the difference between buying a system that's good for your lab, and buying a system that's great for your lab. Here are 5 things to consider before you buy:

1. The seller-and the manufacturer

Who are you buying your system from? What kind of support will the company offer you? If your unit needs repairs, you need training or you want education in advanced capabilities, who provides that? Similarly, who manufactured your CAD system? What is its background? Is it a more clinical or primarily lab, and what advantages or disadvantages might one approach have over the other for your lab? The answers to those questions can help you determine what kind of system to purchase. 

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2. The pricing and upgrade structures


When you purchase your CAD system and software, what ecosystem are you buying into? Are you paying a subscription fee or a fee up front? Does your initial purchase cover updates and/or modules, or will you need to pay for these add-ons? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, but you should know what will be best for your lab before you make a purchasing decision.

3. How it fits with your workflow

Some systems don’t work well with some intraoral scanners or other benchtop scanners. What are your dental clients using? Is the CAD system you’re considering compatible with those needs? What do your dental clients need to do (if anything) to get them into the new workflow? Some CAD systems are more easily integrated than others. Just do your homework as you’re considering what to go with.

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4. Network and communication

Many CAD systems come with some kind of network that enables files to easily be sent to and from dentists and labs. New systems also allow dentists to find labs who can take their files regardless of the lab’s location or if the dentist has worked with the lab in the past. How can your lab leverage that kind of networking opportunity? Does the CAD system support that option? How does your CAD system let you improve your communication with your clients?

5. How open is it?

Even systems that are totally “open” aren’t always really open. And that can be OK! If you want to stay in one manufacturer’s workflow, that can pay dividends. Just decide what will work best for you and your clients, and go from there.    

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Dental Lab Products magazine. For more great insight into CAD/CAM system, the digital workflow and how technology is changing the lab world, click here:

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