The International Dental Show (IDS) is, as Ed Sullivan would say, “A re-e-ally BIG SHEW!” Its largeness as a dental exhibition, however, is not because the IDS is a global mecca to nearly 140,000 dental professionals every 2 years, nor due to the fact that more than 2,100 companies set up their booths in the 14 exhibit halls that cover 157,000 m2 of space. (Compare that to Chicago’s McCormick West space of a mere 18,400 m2.) Rather, its “bigness” lies in the significance of the wealth of innovation and new product developments that are on display. Years and decades of dental research and engineering culminate in this 5-day international expo.
For the average attendee walking these halls, the ubiquitous large-format LED screens and the whir and high-pitched decibels of machinery milling and printing, along with the never-ending maze of “me too” materials becomes a paralyzing blur that numbs the mind. But for the discerning, the dizzying haze begins to transform from a sensory overload to emerge as a compass pointing with unwavering confidence to trends that will be impacting dentistry’s future direction for years to come. And these are the trends that then become guiding forces for owners of companies small and large to formulate short- and long-term strategic decisions for their businesses.
So what breakthrough innovations might we see at the 37th IDS that could foretell the future direction for the industry and stir the imagination of dentists, technicians, and auxiliary staff? Perhaps this will be the year that offers further refinements and developments in digital impression technology that will allow accurate data capture in the presence of blood and saliva or capture the structure of soft tissue. Or will this meeting reveal a long-awaited ceramic, acrylic, or thermoplastic composite polymer material that can be adapted to additive technology for the manufacture of crowns, bridges, frameworks, and dentures suitable for long-term use in the oral environment? Maybe there will be a company showcasing a prototype of additive technology that in the future will be capable of printing multiple materials and products in a continuous 3D printing manufacturing process? Of course, these are futuristic projections of innovations that may emerge this year or in years to come. However, there will be tens of thousands of exciting new developments and advances in machinery, equipment, materials, tools, and technology that have the potential to significantly impact the clinical and technical businesses in our industry.
If you have a passion to learn what segments of dentistry are being perceived as growth opportunities and which may be fading from the scene. If you think interacting and networking with colleagues and vendors who have a global perspective will be valuable to your future business strategy. And if you deem that gaining knowledge about new advances in materials and technologies will help you better support your clients as well as grow your business, then you need to buy your airline ticket and pack your bags. This will be my 10th trip to Cologne, Germany. Hope to see you there!