Spend more time applying your skills designing and at the bench
Jamie Rubin, BFA, RG
Our calls are being answered as manufacturers compete to bring us cutting-edge advancements in desktop scanning technology. Improvements in accuracy and precision certainly stand out. However, the driving goal in evolving models is the demand for ever-greater user efficiency. The challenge has been met head-on with overall scan times falling, and indirectly with the refinement of features to streamline workflows.
Latest developments: The "open air" concept is the most widespread recent trend in hardware design. It offers an ease of use to move swiftly between stages and register bite scans. Adjustable articulators can be mounted directly on the plate, or even laid on their sides for capture. The benefits can trickle down through every step of production, starting with eliminating the need for jigs or adhering pins.
Scan times are dropping across the board. Full-arch models are captured in as little as 8 seconds, with an average of approximately 12, and full-arch impressions in as little as 45. These shorter scan times allow for more energy to be focused on crafting restorations.
Meanwhile, workflows are simplified through a variety of all-in-one options. Fixtures suspend triple-tray impressions for simultaneous processing. Alternatively, opposing stone arches and even dies can be placed on a single scan plate together. Plus, multi-die options are as high as 12 units at once. The impact of these features saves a tremendous amount of time by reducing manual interaction and the number of iterations to post process.
High-resolution scan fields are expanding as an increasing number of 5MP cameras are installed per scanner, with as many as four. This eliminates blind spots to ease in clear and fast capture of interproximal spaces, unsectioned models, and die-in-model scans, delivering clean results and limiting the need for adaptive scanning.
What to know when purchasing: Whether you're looking to purchase your first scanner, upgrade from your current one, or build onto your fleet, identifying your specific needs is the primary step. Some major factors to consider are the types of work you produce; whether you are specialized or full service; if you are scanning models, impressions, or both; and the volume of caseload. The answers to these questions should assign greater value to certain attributes over others. While improved speed is desirable across the board, it would be imperative for a high-volume laboratory. Correspondingly, those focused on large implant cases would benefit most from the advancements in accuracy and precision. Alternatively, an RPD department would be well-suited with full color and texture capabilities.
Of course, your chosen design software may dictate which manufacturer you choose. Working within a fully integrated system can offer workflow benefits, seamless tech support, and ensured compatibility with future software updates. However, with open-source output becoming increasingly more common, there may be more viable options than you realize.
Look at the big-picture opportunity when considering the price of a model. Factor in the cost analysis of long-term savings from fewer hours worked vs the hours of paid labor on older, slower scanners. Scanning is a means to end.
How to get the most out of your scanner: Pair your scanner with a powerful computer to improve post-processing speeds. Some scanners are sold accompanied with new PCs, but with others, do some research to see if your current computer is suitable. Otherwise, you may not reap all the benefits of your more advanced scanner technology.
Regarding tech support, your reseller is important, but not your only outlet. Very often, the best solutions come from users themselves. Don't overlook the massive networks that have developed on social media. Technicians across the world exchange ideas and creatively tackle issues together. You don't need to go it alone.
Employers and employees alike benefit from spending fewer paid hours on busywork and more energy on creating income—producing restorations or appliances. And if you have designated scanners, imagine being afforded the ability to cross-train valuable personnel in other facets that are beneficial to the company, while completing the same amount of cases processed.
Key takeaway: Efficiency is the name of the game for boosting value in labor costs. Time and energy are best spent where it matters most: applying skill in design software and on the bench. The latest models provide this opportunity while simultaneously offering higher quality results.
About the Author
Jamie Rubin, BFA, RG, is the Digital Dentistry Supervisor at SDNY Dental in New York, New York, and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Restorative Dentistry Department at New York City College of Technology.