What’s on my Desk? From Mouse to Tablet

| Carrie Cokely, CDT/TE |

If you told a technician 40 years ago that someday they’ll trade their brush for a mouse they would look at you in wonder.  I imagine their face would look similar if we told them a Tesla car would be sent into space. With new technology we have learned how to do things faster and more efficient.  Some would argue that this evolution has taken away creativity and the artistic touch that we have used for decades. I would say as a former ceramist that they are only new tools and learning how to use them will only broaden your horizons. Let’s go through some of the most popular mice on the market.

Traditional Computer Mouse

This is where it begins for most designers. One of the first hurdles of design is moving the model. I can’t tell you how many times I reached for the screen out of frustration because I didn’t know how to manipulate it. Like many others I was given very little training and learned most techniques on my own. This is the most common mouse for cad designers on the market today. It uses a roller ball that guides the movement in the x and y axis. Optical Mice are also popular which uses LED to detect movement.  If you are lucky enough you might find a cordless one of these floating around the office as well. The tune of this mouse is “less is more”. Nothing fancy or high tech about it.  Paired with a good keyboard for shortcuts this will be sufficient enough to get the job done.

The 3-D Mouse

The 3-D Mouse is fancy and flamboyant and has many advantages for its user. The first being the comfortable wrist pad. It also provides six degrees of freedom, which offers the technician more movement than the standard mouse.  The one pictured above has a rotation toggle key that allows you to move the 3D model quickly. The mouse is equipped with programmable keys that allow the technician to move out of each function smoothly without the need for a keyboard.  This is a popular choice for experienced designers who are looking for maximum efficiency. In just about every hands-on 3Shape training I have been a part of there is at least one person who is missing their 3D mouse! With all that at your fingertips, who wouldn’t?


The Tablet

The tablet is the most impressive tool for dental CAD designers. Instead of relying on your computer screen you have full control of your design on your tablet. The pen allows you to design using a pressure-sensitive cordless pen directly on the tablet surface. The pen has programmable buttons for zoom, pan, sculpting and modifying. There are a lot of available shortcuts that integrate into your dental designer software. The newer versions of the most common software in the dental lab market have recognized the functionality of this device. In the future it is a very real possibility that this could replace your PC.


Whatever tools you use to design your case the outcome will usually be the same. The path to get there can be greatly improved depending on how efficient that tool is for you. Sometimes the tool with the most bells and whistles is not always the most efficient. If you are working harder rather than smarter then you might want to think about a new mouse. For the designer it will be your greatest asset.










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