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January 2011 | Dental Lab Products The CAD/CAM Chorus Bridging the digital divide Bob Steingart – President, Sensable Dental Products by Noah Levine, Senior Editor
January 2011 | Dental Lab Products
The CAD/CAM Chorus
Bridging the digital divide
Bob Steingart – President, Sensable Dental Products
by Noah Levine, Senior Editor
It all began with asking dental laboratory owners about their problems. Then, as Sensable Technologies prepared to enter the dental lab CAD/CAM market, it became a matter of using the company’s years of experience in other digital design and production industries as a starting point and working backwards to find ways technology could be applied to make the processes and workflows in a dental lab more efficient.
“We’ve developed a lot of capabilities over the last 20 years, that we were able to fine tune and tailor for dental,” said Bob Steingart, President of Sensable Dental Products. “One thing I’ve learned to appreciate is the tremendous amount of skill it takes to be a good lab tech. We like to believe that we provide productivity for a skilled lab tech.”
Sensable entered the marketplace around four years ago, standing out from the crown and bridge focused systems with a CAD/CAM system for producing removable prosthetics controlled by haptic interface that provides physical feedback based on digital manipulations. Steingart said designing a system that was easy to use was paramount and the haptic control is the closest thing to mimicking working in an analogue environment.
The system has been expanded and improved since its debut and now can handle crown and bridge design, output for milling as well as for 3D resin printing of parts for casting and pressing techniques. But while it digitizes the wax and design phases of fabrication, Steingart said the idea has always been to add efficiencies to existing workflows, making adapting to the new technology a more natural process.
“Our approach is to make it automatic where it makes sense but also allow a skilled technician to leverage their skills and experience. Our tools are designed to make it easy for them to do that. We really try to make the computer work like a lab tech, versus making the lab tech think like the computer.”
Steingart said by offering a full-service CAD/CAM solution including removables, Sensable is positioning itself to be attractive to smaller labs making the digital transition, a transition he believes every lab will need to make in the near future. It’s been a fast evolution, and the CAD/CAM technologies currently available have reached the point where they work to provide extremely accurate and esthetic restorations with less effort and digital production is making more and more economic sense for labs of all sizes.
“It’s changed just in the past few years. Just a few years ago it was more the early adopter looking at ‘would this technology really work within the industry?’” He said. “At this point the technology is working well, it’s become cost effective and it is becoming mainstream.”
While this is certainly a major transition for the industry, Steingart believes it also is an opportunity. Labs can work far more productively. Digital technologies bring increased lines of communication to dentists and lab technicians, and this can lead to better outcomes for patients. Systems such as Sensable’s are designed to be tools that help technicians leverage their knowledge in order to get the most out of their fabrication and design skills. And these tools will just keep getting better and more powerful.
“I really see the adoption rate moving forward and going through some acceleration,” Steingart said. “The benefits of digital are so dramatic. I personally believe we’re getting to the point where labs need to embrace it.”