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  • Recommendations how to equip CAD/CAM systems for dental laboratories. Scanners.

Recommendations how to equip CAD/CAM systems for dental laboratories. Scanners.

This article is intended for people who decided to start using the innovative 3D modeling technologies in dentistry and purchase a CAD scanner for their office. This article highlights the classification of CAD scanners and will assist you in the selection and purchase of a device.

Scanners for open and closed systems

Scanners for open and closed systems

CAD / CAM systems are classified into two main categories:

  • open architecture;
  • closed architecture.

Closed architecture systems operate only with software and devices from the same manufacturer, therefore limited types of "licensed" materials can be fabricated with these systems. Consequently, a dental technician depends on the sale of products and services of the manufacturer with whom they cooperate. As a result, with new developments on the market and the emergence of an alternative, the popularity of such devices has noticeably decreased.

Open architecture systems have become the alternative. These systems are equipped with software that can transfer STL-files (a file with a 3D implant model) freely between devices of different manufacturers. Thus, the dental technician, using the open architecture system, can equip it with a device from any manufacturer and also use standardized materials suitable for use with most open architecture systems.

When choosing a scanner, the main factor that is worth paying attention to is the ability to transfer the STL file. This function is significant for dentists and dental technicians who can’t afford to purchase the whole system and plan to use the services of milling centers.

Intraoral dental scanners

Intraoral dental 3D scanners are easy to use: with their help the dentist scans the patient's oral cavity and receives its projection, and then creates the necessary model due to modeling program. After that the STL file is transferred to the system program and the implant is manufactured.

Intraoral dental scanners

Currently, dental scanners are considered the most innovative, because with their help one can instantly get a picture of the oral cavity, promptly process the data and make a prosthesis. They save dentists’ time and money, which otherwise would be spent on making the model from a mold by a dental technician. The other advantage is that dental scanners are predominantly open architecture, which is a positive factor when the dentist does not possess his/her own system and has to use the services of a dental laboratory or milling center.

The main drawback of such scanners is their high cost, therefore not every dental office can afford this innovation, since the average cost of the new device fluctuates between $15,000 and $25,000. 3SHAPE, SIRONA and MHT are the leaders on the market of intraoral scanners over the past few years.

Dental scanners

Dental scanners

Dental 3D scanners are more difficult to use, since the preliminary processing of impressions is required. A ready impression is scanned with a scanner so that a model of the prosthesis can be created. Finally, the STL file is transferred to the system for the production of the implant. Dental scanners are classified into three main types:

  • cavity scanners;
  • laser scanners;
  • tactile scanners.

There are also hybrid lasers, which integrate two modes of scanning, however they are not popular on the market because of the high price and operation complexity. Cavity and laser scanners are to date the most popular, due to the time that is spent on the processing of the impression and the accuracy of the results. Tactile scanners are a little bit cheaper in comparison with their optical counterparts and are able to create the same quality image, but their processing speed is much slower and therefore they lose position on the market. A modern optical scanner is capable of processing the model in 15-25 seconds, while a tactile scanner performs the same function in several minutes.

In addition, some scanners can process only particular types of information (based on a mold, impression or a plaster model) and do not contain modeling programs. In this case, their cost will be lower, however, their capabilities will be limited, since such scanners will have to work only with several types of models that are available for processing.

Selecting the scanner, one needs to take into account a few details:

  • the ability to transfer data;
  • availability of scanning functions and modeling programs;
  • availability of service;
  • the necessity to update the software.   

Selecting the scanner

The best manufacturers of CAD scanners and well-known market leaders are such companies as Medit, Dental Wings, Open Technologies and 3SHAPE. The average price for a new device is $5,000-15,000.

Scanner software

Another important detail while choosing a scanner is the program it uses. It determines the power and efficiency of the scanner. Most manufacturers produce devices with licensed software that needs to be regularly updated, since devices with obsolete software simply stop working. Exocad is considered to be the most popular program in recent years. It is compatible with most modern scanners and does not require annual updates, consequently it is gaining popularity among dental technicians. When buying a scanner, one should also specify whether the cost of software includes a license.

To conclude, we should note that on the modern market of dental equipment, buying used devices is a profitable solution, as it can be up to 50% cheaper than new equipment. Before buying used devices, we advise you to pay attention to the availability of software and certificates, as well as the condition of the machine.

Vasyl Lozinsky, BiMedis Сompany