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31 Oct 2012 | eLABORATE

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CAD/CAM dominates Asian expos

By Terry Whitty


The 7th annual CAD/CAM & Computerised Dentistry Conference held recently at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore showcased the best in digital dentistry for 2012.

Singapore has become a hub for high tech in the region so it was fitting the first Asian conference was held here and the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Hotel proved the ideal venue.

The attendant exhibition had a tight focus on digital technologies for the dentist and lab. Companies like Sirona showcased the new full colour powderless CEREC Omnicam intraoral scanner along with their range of milling solutions. Amann Girrbach introduced customers to new materials for its Ceramill Motion 2 system including VITABLOCS and millable CoCr material Sintron. Lab scanning systems from Maestro 3D, Dental Wings and 3Shape were also on display along with milling solutions from Zirkon Zahn, Roland and more.

The Roland DWX50 is gaining a lot of credibility in the market with some of the bigger milling centres like CAP in the US using banks of these machines to mill their zirconia, wax and plastics.

The reason is quite simple, they believe that it is more cost-effective to have multiple smaller inexpensive machines than one big expensive "do all" milling unit. Of course milling units like the Roland DWX 50 are perfect for the smaller lab as well.

Objet had two enormous 3D printers on display and printed dental models throughout the show. This technology has really come a long way and is now at a level where it is a real option for model creation from digital sources such as intraoral scanning. exocad from Germany also gave a glimpse of their new model building software which allows the user a choice of multiple model techniques. You can now take an intraoral scan, separate it digitally, ditch the die and then reproduce it in a number of different model solutions.

Dentech 2012 Shanghai
Later in October, Shanghai hosted Dentech 2012, highlighting technology from all over the world with a large emphasis on China. Held at the upmarket 2010 Shanghai World Expo site, the exhibition included the usual array of large international companies showing their wares, though sometimes not the latest and greatest since it can take up to 3 years to get a product approved for use in China!

There were more CAD/CAM systems from China this year but on closer inspection, most seem to be small industrial machines altered for the dental market. Over the past few years, we've seen many CAD/CAM systems come and go. Only the really good ones from committed dental players survive so it will be interesting to see what is here next year.

Interestingly, there appears to be a lack of any dental CAD software produced in Asia. Everyone uses exocad, Dental Wings, 3Shape or Delcam.

When you go to the second floor of Dentech you are in "sales world". It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of people lined up 5- and 10-deep around all the stands selling dental equipment and materials. Some of the equipment looks OK at first glance but you really have to take a close look at the build quality and you may not be so impressed. The prices are low for a reason!

Similarly the material prices seem too good to be true. But just as there are knock off Louis Vuitton luggage, so too are there copies of popular dental materials made out of who knows what. Don't be completely put off though as there are good things to bring home - the stands selling anatomical and educational models are worth a look, some of these are really good and the quality gets better every year. And there is no need to register these with TGA!

There was also a plethora of outsourcing labs on display as they have an annual meeting here but all seemed mysteriously quiet. A recent newspaper article in Shanghai reported it was getting too costly in China to have some things made and that countries like Vietnam could do it for a third of the price. It seems even Chinese labs are living in interesting times!

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