SCCAN: CAD/CAM isn't one size fits all

March 21, 2012

This month our feature story presented a “chorus” of voices offering a range of views and perspectives on CAD/CAM technology, digital dentistry and the way computerized and robotic processes are changing the dental lab industry. The voices in that article may have differed in their opinions about the technology, but the one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that CAD/CAM technology is here and has already begun to change the dental laboratory industry in numerous ways.

This month our feature story presented a “chorus” of voices offering a range of views and perspectives on CAD/CAM technology, digital dentistry and the way computerized and robotic processes are changing the dental lab industry. The voices in that article may have differed in their opinions about the technology, but the one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that CAD/CAM technology is here and has already begun to change the dental laboratory industry in numerous ways.

But just because the technology is here, doesn’t mean every lab needs to run out and purchase a scanner, a mill, a 3D printer or a whole range of expensive new devices and tools. CAD/CAM technology has already produced a range of new business models in the dental lab industry, with others being tested out all the time. It’s likely one of those business models will fit your lab, and throughout the rest of 2011, Dental Lab Products will present this new column, Steps to CAD/CAM Adoption Now (or SCCAN) to share the stories of labs and companies that have entered the digital marketplace via differing paths.

Beginning with next month’s issue, when we will focus on labs testing the digital waters via an investment in little more than design software that allows them to digitally design restorations and then link up with reliable outsource partners for production, the series will examine an escalating scale of ways to invest in the technology. From purchasing various types of scanners, mills and 3D printers, the series will stretch all the way up to cover what it takes to create and open a milling center so your lab can become that reliable outsource partner for others in the industry.

SCCAN is about more than just looking at the categories of technology that make up the CAD/CAM side of the industry, and the series will showcase how these digital technologies foster various kinds of partnerships between labs of different sizes, technology manufacturers and even the companies producing materials designed for use in the CAD/CAM systems being covered.

Adopting a CAD/CAM system goes beyond your purchase and implementation of new technologies. Bringing in these new tools not only can provide efficiencies, it can fundamentally change the way work flows through a lab. For this reason, the final two installments of the SCCAN series will look at aspects of CAD/CAM beyond just adopting the technologies available for purchase.

In the first of these concluding columns, we will examine what is different (and what is the same) about putting the finishing touches on milled restorations as compared to restorations produced through more traditional lab techniques. Then, the SCCAN series will conclude with an examination of how new CAD/CAM services can become selling points for your lab with a detailed look at marketing strategies that work for labs that have already made the digital transition.

CAD/CAM isn’t going to be an immediate fit for every lab, but with so many options already available and new systems and technologies always on the way, we hope the SCCAN series will offer some insight into the options available to your lab, so you can make the decision as to what type of involvement will work best for you and when it’s the right time to implement it in your lab.

We welcome your feedback throughout the year.