The past decade has ushered in the digitization of the dental laboratory industry. From the very first mills — expensive, large, difficult to run — to the most recent pieces of CAD CAM equipment — smaller footprints, lower price tags, user-friendly — we have witnessed enormous technological advancements. Dental labs have benefited from the digital trends that are occurring globally, and statistically speaking, most labs have digitized most of their processes. Automating and digitizing removables appears to be the next frontier, and there is no shortage of contenders in terms of technologies and materials. The good news is that many labs are already digitally savvy and may already own the equipment needed to produce removables in-house.
To gain a better understanding of how labs are grappling with these impending changes Zahn recently issued a survey to the lab industry and we received an overwhelming response. Here’s what we learned:
- 79% of respondents offer removables
- Of the respondents that don’t offer removables, 45% are considering adding it
- 54% of respondents produce their removables with a completely traditional workflow
- 60% of respondents who are offering removables plan to switch to a fully digital process
- Of the respondents who plan to transition to a fully digital process, 26% plan to make the switch within 6 months
The survey has shown us that technicians are adopting digital technology in their removables departments and plan to continue to do so in the near future. Labs are experimenting with different CAD/CAM equipment and materials. We also found that many labs are also currently using a blend of analog and digital processes to produce their removables. It’s likely that the high level of comfort with digital processes in the industry is resulting in a high degree of willingness to explore and adopt new processes that will result in increased accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and simplified workflows.
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