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Inside Dental Technology
July 2018
Volume 9, Issue 7

Trends in CAM Milling

Hardware and material innovations in subtractive manufacturing

Mark Fisher

We all jump into "a technology-driven process" at some point, implicitly trusting in the machine's ability to do the job without our need to understand how it works. For example, if you're reading this electronically, chances are you didn't design and solder together the motherboard on the device you are using. We take for granted that someone else with specialized knowledge manufactures the device and that we are merely a link in the supply chain or the end user. The same holds true for CAM milling machines. As the complexity in milling technology progresses, there's no shame in admitting that one product type or the machine designed to mill it is outside what makes sense for your business to mill or purchase and therefore is better left to a larger outside milling center. That said, there's an ever-growing list of milling machines that fit most any space and mill a wide variety of materials and product types. As the needs and complexities of milling technology continue to evolve you must decide what fits best for you and your business.

Dental CAM milling seems to stand out when it comes to blending high-tech artistry and traditional manufacturing. A restoration is judged subjectively and objectively beyond traditional manufacturing expectations. Success is not gauged by whether the part was milled "correctly" but rather by how closely its esthetics and functionality mimic natural dentition. How many other industrial manufacturing fields are expected to produce millions of unique custom parts on a multi-axis machine? The demands of the dental space are equal parts precision and tight tolerances combined with manual artistry to achieve the esthetics of a natural tooth. Today we have a wide range of dental-specific milling technologies on the market—from those that fit on your kitchen counter to industrial machine configurations too large to fit in your garage.

Several exciting developments are currently available, on the horizon, or will be available in the near foreseeable future. Whether in the hardware space or the expansion of millable materials, these advances demonstrate next-generation iterations for subtractive technology. In the hardware arena, two unique approaches by Ivoclar Vivadent and Digital Dental materialized on the market. Ivoclar unveiled its new milling machine line for the US market at the Chicago Dental Society's Midwinter event in February. The desktop-sized PrograMill ONE in particular is of great interest because it mills in a non-traditional fashion. The milling material and the milling tool make one contact and remain in touch throughout the entire milling cycle. The company believes this approach applies significantly less stress on the material and yields considerably faster milling times.

Efficiency and seamless manufacturing integration are front and center on many subtractive technology manufacturers' drawing boards, as considerable effort continues toward providing the dental profession with automated milling machine processes. Just imagine the ability to load designs for zirconia crowns, custom abutments, digital dentures, and anything else you can provide as a product offering and have all three simultaneously mill in one seamless workflow? The innovative concept has become reality with Digital Dental's unveiling of its Three-in-One mill. The future of subtractive manufacturing in dentistry may very well be the ability to "plug and manufacture" any restorative solution in a robust milling (CNC) machine with ease and minimal human intervention.

A next-generation concept in milling one of the industry's most-prescribed materials may soon be realized. In recent years, we have witnessed an explosion of millable material choices largely because of significant innovations in dental CAD/CAM. We now can mill multiple restorations and frameworks from pucks of metal, glass, zirconia, PMMA, high-impact polymers, and more. However, three popular restorative materials remain locked into milling only single blocks. That is about to change. A significant game changer on the horizon for the industry is the ability to mill lithium disilicate in a 98.5-mm puck that fits most common dental milling machines. Output will be significantly enhanced, allowing dental laboratories the ability to produce restorations from these materials in a quick and efficient manner. Stay tuned. There is a manufacturer poised to launch the puck in the months ahead.

What innovations will further push the envelope in the subtractive space with new hardware or material concepts? The answer to this question will be constantly evolving. Keeping abreast of new developments will keep you informed and help you maintain your competitive edge in the market.

Tech Showcase

This product showcase spotlights the latest innovations introduced onto the marketplace in the past year. Each of these products demonstrates unique new advances, improvements, or expansion of applications within the subtractive landscape. We celebrate all the new subtractive innovations that have been and will be introduced this year. A complete showcase of products in this category will be published in our 2018 Product iNavigator in November.

Amber Mill and Rosetta BM

Hass Bio's Amber® Mill is a lithium disilicate millable material, available in cubes and 98-mm discs. Its excellent opalescence and fluorescence represent natural teeth features. Rosetta® BM leucite boosts efficient milling with no crystallization.

Versamill 5X-200 and 5X-300D

The Versamill 5X-300D from Axsys Dental Solutions is a benchtop machining center that provides technology, capability, and customer support unprecedented for its class. It features a 90-kg weight, vibration-absorbing aluminum frame construction, a closed-loop-axes drive system, and a 60,000-rpm, 500-w spindle.

DWX-52D and DWX-52DCi

DGSHAPE by Roland's new DWX-52D boasts a new snap-in clamp system that makes the setup of various materials faster and more secure. The DWX-52DCi features an Automatic Disc Changer (ADC) that optimizes productivity by storing up to six discs of different materials and enabling discs to be replaced automatically during milling.

vhf R5

The vhf R5's patent-pending loading system for blanks allows them to be directly machined without the cumbersome process of first screwing them down into the clamping frame. The working chamber drying system makes it possible to quickly switch between wet and dry machining.


Alien Milling's Stardust zirconia features excellent light refraction in the mouth due to its unique composition. It mimics the characteristics of natural enamel with transitioning strength from the incisal (600 MPa) to the cervical (1200 MPa). This transition in strength offers the added benefit of absorbing light and blending the shade inside the mouth.

Grandio Blocs Nano-Ceramic Resin Hybrid CAD/CAM Block

With optimal tooth-like physical properties, category-leading compressive strength, extremely low water absorption, and natural esthetics with enhanced color stability, VOCO's Grandio blocs provide a new solution for streamlining CAD/CAM processes and delivering high-quality restorations.

VITA VIONIC SOLUTIONS System for Ceramill FDS Workflow

Coming soon, Amann Girrbach has fully integrated the VITA VIONIC SOLUTIONS System into the Ceramill FDS Workflow (exclusively). This enables a 100% digital fabrication of full dentures according to the existing VITA setup concepts (four options).

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