When discussing CAD CAM equipment, most lab owners seem to have a fairly common set of questions when obtaining knowledge of different solutions. These include things like mill time per unit, tool cost, volume needed to have a positive ROI, warranty and cost. Unfortunately, integration is something very rarely questioned or discussed and is just as important (and possibly more important) as some of the other items mentioned.
The term integrate as defined in the dictionary is “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole”. As we relate this to CAD CAM and the many different components requiring unification the list includes software, hardware, tools, materials and indications. Obviously, there are many integration factors that should be analyzed when looking into anything CAD CAM.
To summarize, the best in class integrated solution will begin with scanners that scan quickly and accurately. File transfer to CAD should be easily obtained, quick to open and efficient to design. CAD operation should include all the indications you intend on producing today and have the potential to add indications needed in the future. When moving to CAM, files should be easy to locate and quick to nest into the disc or bloc. Mills should run efficiently, predictably and precisely. When looking closely at these functions it’s not a black or white or yes or no. It’s much more to what level of integration any solution has. Some systems and or system components will be very well integrated and others may be not as complete. For instance, we use the Roland DWX-50 mill. With CAP integrations we are able to scan, design and mill the most complex geometries needed. This being screw retained full arch restorations. It’s possible to purchase this mill and not have access to this indication. This is due to the behind the scenes engineering CAP has put into integrating this CAD CAM solution indication.
Another very important, not often spoken about part of the integration process is tools and materials. When engineers develop milling strategies, specific tools are used and become specific to a milling strategy. The seemingly noncritical act of changing tools to an alternate or seemingly similar tool can destroy the integration that has been so finely created.
In conclusion, when venturing into CAD CAM, looking and purchasing the most well integrated solutions provides the greatest potential for lean manufacturing, predictability and frustration free workflows.
Thanks for reading,
Bob Cohen, CDT