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Closing the gap for a complete digital workflow
As products in the technology category continue to advance and mature, the are becoming faster, smaller, more affordable, and increasingly versatile. The ability to mill both wet and dry materials, CAD design more complex restorative solutions, collaborate virtually in real time, view the oral landscape in accurate color, and reduce the footprint and cost of milling and printing technologies were just some of this year’s many innovations, significant add-ons, and upgrades. As we look ahead to 2015 and the International Dental Show in Cologne, Germany, we can only imagine what new solutions are in store.
The maturity of technology is measured in part by its evolutionary progression to a system—or set of systems—that are intuitive and easy to use, and that perform without significant problems. Certainly, almost all of the developments being utilized by dental technologists in the automated phases of restorative product manufacturing have reached this point in the maturity cycle.
Now the focus is on integrating these technologies in a seamless digital workflow process and finding ways to reduce the analog steps needed to complete the restorative production cycle. This year, manufacturers introduced smaller-footprint desktop milling and 3D printing technologies that brought affordability to a level reachable by smaller businesses. New expanded-function CAD software allows technicians to explore the design of full-arch removable prosthetics for CAM manufacture. In addition, slimmer, more affordable digital impression–capture technologies, which are faster and less cumbersome, promise to speed the adoption rate and help close the gap for a complete digital workflow from the practice to laboratory.
The transitional journey for dentistry has only begun. We have many miles yet to go.