Analog is Not the Opposite of Digital

Analog is Not the Opposite of Digital

Analog Is Not the Opposite of Digital

You’re Doing it Wrong.

Many of us in the dental field have been using the word ‘analog’ improperly. We often refer to analog technologies as being anything preceding digital technology. That’s definitely not the case. So this post is to collectively save us all from ever sounding stupid to technology nerds ever again. And don’t worry, it’s not just us, I’ve seen the same mistake made in the New York Times.

I recall a video that referred to 1950’s classrooms as ‘analog learning’ as opposed to our modern classrooms’ use of computers and the internet. I’ve heard the work of contemporary digital artists and designers compared to the ‘analog art’ of painters. The real kicker, and reason for this post, is those who position traditional handmade work as the ‘analog’ opposite of digital dental technology.

Handmade isn’t Analog.

Restorations that are handmade are not analog, period. As an analogy, I recently picked up a used Canon Rebel G from the ’90s used to shoot film. I have had a digital SLR from Canon for years now, and they’re obviously extremely different. But we have to be careful not to confuse ‘old’ and ‘new’, with two very specific terms like analog and digital.

The word digital, to most people, refers to a device that can capture, store, or display data in a binary fashion. Ones and zeros, on and off, digital is all about numbers. Digital shouldn’t be confused with binary, of course, as digital simply means concrete values. The root word is digits, after all. Any system that utilizes solid values (or digits) is digital, binary is simply the most common system. Digital cameras, and conversely digital 3d scanners capture light with a sensor, that light is converted into data (numbers), so the use of the word ‘digital’ for your cell phone camera, DSLR, or 3shape is accurate.

Analog, however, is a very abused word. I would venture a guess that the significant amount of technicians have used the word ‘analog’ to refer to anything done traditionally. If the new, fancy robot 3D scanners are ‘digital’ then our aging techniques are ‘analog’, right? Not at all. Leaning back on the camera analogy: Older cameras capture light with film, which is basically plastic, gelatin, and silver halide. When you take a photo (perhaps of an aesthetic full mouth restoration), photons hit this material and produce a latent (invisible) image, that can later be brought into view by bathing the film in various chemicals. You could write hundreds of blog posts on film development alone, but the point is that film photography is a chemical process. Conversely, when you stack porcelain, or process a denture, the materials go through various chemical and physical changes.

Digital 3D scanners and traditional techniques are quite different, but I’d rather hear the word ‘chemical’, ‘organic’, or ‘magic’ given to traditional techniques before ‘analog’.


Wait, What is Analog Then?

Analog, as its name suggests, refers to being analogous to something. If we’re referring to the adjective used in technology, the definition of analog is:

Of, relating to, or being a device in which data are represented by continuously variable, measurable, physical quantities, such as length, width, voltage, or pressure. – Wordnik

So a great example of an analog technology would be a vinyl record. The audio is stored as waves (variable data) within the grooves of the vinyl. Digital audio stores the data as numbers, as finite units of data per second found in mp3s and CDs. What’s important is that a vinyl record is legitimately something that deserves to be called ‘analog’. Dentures are not. Dentures and the techniques used to fabricate them are physical and chemical, there is no data (waves or otherwise) to be found as there would be on the record.

Plenty of older (and current) technologies are analog. Just be sure to ask yourself if that device has variable signals/data, or if that device is just really old. A television with a cathode ray tube (CRT) is an analog device; a cave painting of a man stabbing a mastodon with a spear is not. Ironically, CNC machines and 3D printers take digital signals and use transducers, pulse width modulation (PWM), or variable frquency drives (VFD) to produce analog signals that drive the spindles or lasers that ultimately produce a restoration. Those restorations are technically physical “analogs” of their corresponding digital designs.

Stop Saying Analog?

I know its hip to be anti-digital sometimes. But before we all drink a PBR and hop on our fixed gear bikes to the thrift store, we have to remember that just because something is old, that doesn’t make it ‘analog’. 35MM cameras, oscilloscopes, and the cotton gin are all old technologies, but only one of them is an analog device.

We pride ourselves in the dental lab industry for knowing tons of interesting things about art, science, and technology, but this is one adjective we should all cut back on a bit. The good news is we will always have our favorite noun: analogue! We can still say: “A picture is an analogue of a memory”, or “A cubic zirconia is an analogue of a diamond”, and “Cerec is an analogue of real lab work.”

Panthera Mastercup 2018 Registration is Open

Panthera Mastercup 2018 Registration is Open

Québec City (Québec), February 1, 2018 – Panthera Dental has announced that registration for the 2018 edition of their Mastercup competition has opened.

According to their website: The Panthera Master Cup is a contest open to any dental technician, dentist or denturist who wants to compete with the best. Knowledge and skills will be evaluated on a full upper and lower case that involves implant bars.

Contestants will be provided with a case and will need to complete it within a specific period of time. Each contestant will also need to document their work and include said documentation with their final submission. A jury of five people will then use a predetermined criteria list to evaluate all cases and select the winner.

Panthera’s Mastercup is presented In collaboration with :

LMT magazine  LMT magazine Starmann

Registration deadline is February 28, 2018. Only 10 participants will be selected and announced on March 5th.

Each contestant will receive a Montreal bar for the maxilla and a milled bar with 3 Novaloc attachments for the mandible, including instructions and a Stratos 100 articulator. The completed case must be submitted by May 31st.

For more details, visit or email

Head on over to our blog section to read our exclusive interview with Co-founder and VP of Marketing Béatrice Robichaud: Here

Panthera Mastercup 2018: An Interview with Béatrice Robichaud, Co-Founder and VP of Marketing

Panthera Mastercup 2018: An Interview with Béatrice Robichaud, Co-Founder and VP of Marketing

Hi Beatrice,

Thanks you for agreeing to answer our questions! DentalTechTips is very excited about the 2018 edition of Panthera’s Mastercup competition.

To start, let’s have you tell me a little about yourself and your role at Panthera.

I co-founded Panthera Dental in 2012 with my brother. My role with Panthera is VP Marketing & Customer Experience. I am a daughter of a dental technician and I was literally born in the industry. I joined the dental world in 2006 with another company that was sold to Nobel Biocare in 2009 and I left that company in 2011.
With Panthera, I take care of everything related to marketing and communication. I also focus on our customer experience and how they conduct their business with us. This means training the customer service representatives and ensuring high standards and responses. I also work in project development and support our sales team.

Can we get a little background on the inspiration for the Mastercup competition? Who’s idea was it, and how did it all come about?

It was my idea. I wanted to find a way to give away something, but not with a random contest. I told myself that a challenge like this could be a nice window for us to show the industry that we care. We believe in our customer and we want to help them grow their own business by using our products.

What excites you most about the competition?

I am always thrilled to see who will register, some famous technicians and some unknown ones. I hope this year we will have some young technicians that will try to compete against the more experienced guys. I also hope to see more women joining in the contest.

Panthera has really positioned itself as a leader in the implant bars category. How do you expect the Mastercup competition to affect everyone’s perception of Panthera?

I think what has helped us most in the last 5 years for us to achieve our position in the industry is the fact that we listen to our customers. To further elaborate, I want to emphasise that 3 of our main products have been developed in partnership with 3 of our best customers. We are not here to force our customers to think our way, we want to think their way but using our know-how. The Mastercup is a reflection of this, the idea is to share the knowledge, we are proud of what we do and we want to share. With the Mastercup it is a nice platform to help the profession by showing to a wide audience how to complete a nice denture over implant bars.

The first Mastercup was launched last year, how would you gauge the success of the previous competition? Did it meet or exceed expectations?

It has exceeded what I was hoping in all my dreams. Not only have we had multiple registrations but we had very good registrations. There were some amazing presentations to choose from. The best part of the contest is the one I didn’t plan. Some of the participants (not even the winner) have used their Mastercup cases to make a full years plan of lectures around the USA to share with people how they made their case. That mean that the Mastercup has helped some technicians make a living from participating in a contest. This is just amazing!

What is Panthera’s vision for future competitions?

I hope to make it bigger, to attract more people outside North America, we even had a participant from France last year, I want more participants from around the world. Who knows, maybe in the future, Mastercup will have some regional contests.

Is there anything done differently for this year’s competition as opposed to last year?

This year will be similar to last year but way bigger! Prizes have doubled, we have strong partners and we want to make this event something solid. I think this year will be the opportunity to show to the industry that this is a serious contest and not just a “marketing trick”. It is a legitimate contest that we want to show gives back to the industry. This is why I made it free to participate and it will stay like that.

Partnering with Abutment Direct, Straumann, Ivoclar and LMT for this competition must have been quite an effort to co-ordinate. Were there any major challenges that stood out? Are there any other industry leaders that Panthera would like to, or already have in mind for the future to partner with?

It was not that hard since last year’s contest was a very good success. I have to admit it was even easy in some ways. All of our partners are more than happy to be on board because they have the same thinking as we do to share the knowledge with our industry.

In an effort to keep the competition manageable, it’s understandable that participation numbers need to be limited, if there is a greater demand in the future, would Panthera consider opening the competition up to a wider audience? What would that look like?

I am not closed to the idea, but we will see.

The main prize includes a trip to Quebec City. What would you, as a native of Quebec recommend for sights and activities that the potential winner should see/do to have a wonderful experience?

Quebec City is the oldest city in North America, with over 400 years of history. The city offers an amazing architecture, just walking the street is an attraction by itself. The boardwalk in front of the Castle Frontenac offers an amazing view of the St-Lawrence River. The name Quebec comes from the native culture meaning “Where the river narrows”, this creates the unique aspect of the city built on top of a cliff. Quebec is known for it’s high gastronomy cuisine, and french speaking in North America. Within 40 minutes of downtown you can be in pure wilderness and come back in the evening for a very Quebec style dinner.

Tell us about Panthera. A general statement:

You know I could write an amazing “marketing statement” about Panthera but I will keep it simple, we do quality for real and we care about our customers.

For more exclusive interviews, stick with DentalTechTips!

Read our news story on Panthera’s 2018 edition of Mastercup registration Here