Inside Dental Technology
An Interview with Albert Garza
Pondering whether you should take the plunge into CAD/CAM? Inside Dental Technology spoke with Albert Garza, vice president, North America Marketing & Sales, at Amann Girrbach America, who dispels the myths.
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): What are the myths about CAD/CAM ownership?
Albert Garza (AG): Three major misperceptions persist in the industry regarding CAD/CAM ownership. The first is that the math doesn’t work. Inaccurate return-on-investment (ROI) calculations are the cause for not realizing the valuable economic advantages of in-house CAD/CAM production. Many laboratory owners are paying monthly outsourcing bills that are significantly greater than the monthly costs of owning a CAD/CAM solution.
The second misperception is that the changeover to digital in-house production is too difficult. The fear of the learning curve regarding new CAD design and CAM production methods is a leading cause for many laboratory owners to steer clear of CAD/CAM altogether. The reality is that CAD software is very intuitive and only as complex as people want it to be. If owners and managers identify the most suitable solution and partner, the transition can be easy. The right partner will assist them with initial and ongoing hands-on software and processing training, workflow analyses, and continuing service and support.
The third major myth is that CAD/CAM means full contour. The misperception of ‘losing control’ over finished products through CAD/CAM processes discourages many potential users. CAD/CAM is simply a tool—a tool that provides as much or as little influence over the finished restoration as the laboratory technician decides. This technology helps laboratories reach a certain point in the production process faster, with more consistency and more affordability than might otherwise be achieved through manual processing or outsourcing.
IDT: What do you say to people who are clinging to these beliefs?
AG: I encourage laboratory owners to seriously evaluate each CAD/CAM system to find the right solution for their needs. Identify a solution that produces the most diverse range of restorations.The more a laboratory staff can process through the machine today and in the future, the better the math, or ROI, will be. Basically, this means investing in a solution that can process many types of restorations and materials. The ability to produce more in house will have the single greatest and most immediate impact on the ROI of any CAD/CAM investment.
To allay concerns about transitioning to CAD/CAM processes, I encourage owners to inquire about the type of support provided by vendors, which means determining who will train, service, and support their laboratories starting from day one and beyond. The right partner will understand a laboratory’s needs and have the infrastructure to adequately support any requirements.
Finally, I tell them that CAD/CAM provides them with control; it doesn’t take it away. With the right solution, laboratory owners can make what they want, when they want, and take greater control of the final product, production processes, and the profitability of their business.
IDT: Are there bigger-picture factors that laboratory owners should consider?
AG: First and foremost, laboratory owners need to make sure that their CAD/CAM solution providers ‘know’ the laboratory business and are proven in equipment and material design and production. Ignore the bells and whistles, and consider asking the following questions:
Is the system open? If a system is truly open, the operator can send and receive files from other open systems, which expands the laboratory’s avenues for receiving more production and improves the versatility of working with other systems.
Is the equipment platform modular? Can the laboratory upgrade the system if a new feature becomes available, or will purchasing a new system be required?
Is the solution truly a ‘dental laboratory’ CAD/CAM system? A laboratory CAD/CAM system is specialized and can design and produce the full spectrum of restorations from zirconia copings and crowns and implant abutments to implant bars, splints, models, millable chrome cobalt, titanium, PMMA and glass ceramics. The number of material and restorative processing capabilities is largely driven by whether a machine can operate wet and/or dry, the number of milling axes and how the axes are utilized, and the type of design software employed. All CAD/CAM solutions are not created equal.
IDT: How does Amann Girrbach America’s (AGA) direct sales and support approach help its partners avoid these kinds of issues?
AG: Through a consultative approach to understanding a laboratory’s situation today and what is expected tomorrow and with a robust equipment, materials and support portfolio, AGA crafts unique solutions to the needs of each of its partners like nobody else can. AGA provides solutions to the issues that matter even if the laboratory owners are not aware of the consideration. And because we’ve been serving laboratories for more than 100 years, we’ve learned a little about what laboratories need and want.