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The Hidden Advantages of CAD CAM

CAP Background

We have all heard the many important factors that go into making a decision to buy or not to buy CAD CAM. Things like return on investment, reducing cost of goods sold and automation is critical to your lab’s future to name just a few. When looking deeper into the investment, there are a bunch of smaller but very significant additional reasons to support digital.

Do What is Right

The first one that comes to my mind – doing what is right. If you currently outsource and you receive a product back that does not meet quality expectations, you have two decisions – accept the product and deliver it to stay on time or ask your outsource partner to remake it. Neither choice is optimal because the result will either be a poor-quality product or a delayed product.  If you have a system in-house, you can likely get it right and caught up in 24 hours or less, resulting in providing a more consistent better product, more routinely. With today’s materials and CAD CAM, in-house remakes cost less than ever before. As a result, there is no longer a good business reason to ship inferior or flawed product(s).

Stay at the Cutting-edge

If you have employees, they will be happy to see they work for a company that is staying current and up-to-date. This relates to job security as well as opportunity for them to learn new things. In addition to your staff,  getting into CAD CAM is exhilarating and may create passion and reignite your feeling about your work, your business and your future. Keep in mind, passion is a critical element to success in business. If passion is not there it’s much more difficult to enjoy success.

Control what you mill

On another note, if you now outsource, the company you send to is making a profit from doing your cases. By bringing this in-house you can add this margin directly to your bottom line. And it’s not only the bottom line. Currently you are locked into the materials your milling center offers. When bringing CAD CAM in-house you have the opportunity to work with best-in-class, least expensive or most esthetic. What’s best for you and you customer becomes your decision.

We all know there is a lot of pricing pressure in our industry, as dentists in the US have taken a 14% cut in income over the last several years. That said, managing your own production will enable you to be more competitive with both pricing and turnaround time. It’s interesting how two weeks was the industry standard for time needed to produce a crown just a few years ago. Today, it is just 5 days.

Grow Your Lab

In addition to the above, CAD CAM can directly impact growth of your lab. The numbers of indications now available in digital workflows are beyond what most labs want or need. As a result, adding new products and/or services are readily available to you. These more recent advancements can be your differentiation from your competition. This versatility can help your lab thrive.


Keep in mind, buying CAD CAM still needs to make good business sense. The ROI is still mission-critical. But looking at all the new CAD CAM equipment and indications now available, an ROI done just a couple of years ago is no longer real world. For sure, competition has brought down the prices of crowns and it’s done the same for CAD CAM. Today you can obtain a complete system for under $55K. This could include an Amann Girrbach Mikro mill, 3Shape D500 scanner, CAD, CAM, computer, in-house training and a sintering furnace. Over five years the cost is about $245 a week. Add in US tax code section 179 and you get a tax break this coming tax season of approximately $18K. It’s now very difficult to make an argument to not bring digital manufacturing in-house.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Cohen, CDT

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