Small Labs Must Add Digital Production More Quickly

| Bob Cohen |


In a recent study, conducted by LMT research department, concluded that 37% of 1-5 person labs do not have a scanner. This is probably not that surprising, however, with really high-quality scanners now available in the $10K range I don’t quite understand it. More notably, almost half of these smaller labs that have scanners have not moved to in-house production or lack having a mill.   

When looking at the numbers of digital restoration now being prescribed and the cost related to manufacture a digital crown I believe many of these ill-equipped, lab owners may be short- sighted. Owning a scanner only provides a lab owner the ability to control design and really not much more. Not a bad thing. When adding the mill, the small lab can much more easily compete economically with any lab, regardless of size as each has very similar production costs. In addition, the time needed or wasted in the outsourcing makes it difficult to adhere to the industry standard of a one-week turnaround.   

For years I have touted to go through an ROI analysis prior to purchasing digital equipment. And I’m not suggesting this to be bad advice, however, an ROI will not take into consideration the true value-adds. Once one has the mill, there are many additional products and services that can be layered into a lab offering that will bring new revenues and added profits. Some of these are as follows:

  • Diagnostic work including smile designs 
  • Profitable diagnostic wax-ups  
  • Surgical guides (also brings in more implant work)  
  • Provisional made inexpensively and profitably  
  • Night guards   
  • Partial denture frames  
  • Full digital dentures  
  • And more  


Today there is no question. The industry has gone digital we are just waiting for you to join.  

Thanks for reading. Please share with a friend.  


Season’s Greetings, 


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