Dental CAD software is most associated with designing crown-and-bridge substructures and full-contour restorations. However, in recent years, the design software has evolved to include custom implant abutments, removable prostheses, and orthodontic appliances.
Before a computer and software (CAD) can be used to design restorations, the model has to be available in a digital form by one of the following three methods:
Method 1: A digital impression from the 3M LAVA™ C.O.S. or Cadent iTero™ dedicated
Method 2: A 3-dimensional (3D) scan of a poured model from a traditional impression.
Method 3: A direct scan of a traditional impression.
For doctor-scanned digital impression cases, most CAD programs include a software utility to import scan files. This utility is usually part of the Case Management module and often will automatically populate all of the necessary case information into the case record.
For cases where a model or impression must be scanned, most CAD software programs are bundled with a 3-D scanner interface. Once a case is entered into the “Case Management” module, the scanner interface can be used to digitize the model。
CAD software gives laboratories the ability to design their own restorations or substructures. It distributes design responsibilities to the laboratories that are most familiar with their client’s preferences while leveraging the milling center’s manufacturing capacity and efficiency to produce more restorations in a shorter period of time at a lower cost. Laboratories designing their own restorations often save $20 per unit compared to typical milling center scan/design/mill pricing. That can be a significant cost-savings over a year.
Which CAD software is best for your laboratory? Consider the cost of the scanner and software. Look at the volume of production and types of restorations anticipated over the next 2 years. Make sure that the software supports the types of restorations you produce and that the initial purchase price and maintenance fees are manageable.