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.”
3Shape Ortho System Clear Aligner Workflow receives FDA 510(k) market clearance
FDA market clearance means USA dental professionals can now use 3Shape Clear Aligner Studio software to produce clear aligners in-house.
Copenhagen, October 24, 2018 – 3Shape announces that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants 510(k) USA market clearance for the 3Shape Ortho System clear aligner workflow.
The 3Shape Ortho System clear aligner workflow is used in 3Shape’s Clear Aligner Studio software. Because of this, USA dental professionals can now use 3Shape Clear Aligner Studio to design and produce their own orthodontic clear aligner treatments.
3Shape Clear Aligner Studio guides professionals through the case analysis, setup and staging, and export to print for production.
Using simple and intuitive workflows, the software provides analysis of arch shapes, overjet/overbite, Bolton ratios, occlusion and spaces. From there, virtual setups can be created and subdivided into the clear aligner stages needed. Attachments and interproximal reduction can also be added to the treatment plan and when planning is complete, sub-setups can be prepared for printing. Production files can be exported for 3D printing and vacuum forming. The software is compatible with a wide range of 3D printers.
“Around the world, hundreds of thousands of clear aligners are produced every year using 3Shape Clear Aligner Studio. It is very exciting that USA professionals now have the same opportunity to take total control of their design, budgeting and production of clear aligners,” says Allan Hyldal, Vice President of 3Shape Orthodontics.
Like all 3Shape solutions, 3Shape Clear Aligner Studio is open. Professionals are free to decide how much of the workflow they want to do inhouse and/or seamlessly send to design and production partners.
Because the workflow is digital, treatment planning and simulations can be shared onscreen with patients as well as between practice and lab via the 3Shape Communicate cloud platform.
3D Systems and Amann Girrbach Join Forces to Expand Ceramill® Digital Dental Workflow with NextDent™ 3D Printing
Integrated single-source solution will enable dental labs and clinics to produce dental devices faster and more economically with lower total cost of operation
ROCK HILL, South Carolina and KOBLACH, Austria, October 22, 2018 – 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD), the originator of 3D printing, and Amann Girrbach, a leading supplier of digital dental prosthetic solutions, today announced that Amann Girrbach will be integrating 3D Systems’ NextDent™ 5100 3D printing solution into its Ceramill® System digital dental workflow. This will allow the Austrian-based company, which has partners in over 90 countries worldwide, to offer its thousands of dental lab customers an expanded integrated solution that combines dental-optimized 3D printing with its suite of CAD/CAM software, digital milling and testing equipment.
Powered by 3D Systems’ proprietary Figure 4™ technology, NextDent 5100 is a complete 3D printing dental solution that produces precision trays, models, surgical guides, dentures, orthodontic splints, crowns and bridges at print speeds up to 4x faster and at significantly reduced cost compared to competitive systems. It supports the industry’s most extensive dental materials portfolio with 30 unique biocompatible and CE-certified NextDent materials available to cover a broad range of dental applications for lab managers, dental technicians, dental prosthetic technicians and clinical prosthodontists and orthodontists. 3D Systems 3D Sprint™ software provides a single interface for file preparation, editing, printing and management, and is now fully integrated with the Ceramill CAD/CAM workflow.
“With the addition of 3D Systems’ NextDent 5100 3D printing to our Ceramill System, we can offer our customers a more feature-rich digital dental workflow that will make them more competitive and efficient,” said Christian Ermer, Head of Product Management at Amann Girrbach. Amann Girrbach. “For example, a dental model is an important part of the restoration process and now with the Next Dent 5100 our customers can print their own models cost-effectively without having to move outside the Ceramill workflow. The NextDent 5100 can also produce bridges, crowns and even the full denture which dramatically lowers production costs and reduces turnaround time. This is certainly a win-win for our customers and their dental patients.”
“Additive manufacturing is transforming the way dental applications are planned, produced and delivered, due in large part to the wide variety of NextDent materials that are regulatory approved and clinically evaluated. We are pleased that Amann Girrbach, an industry leader in dental CAD/CAM solutions, is adopting our NextDent 5100 as the additive component in the Ceramlll workflow,” said Rik Jacobs, vice president, general manager, dental, 3D Systems. “Amann Girrbach’s customers are getting a trusted connection – a complete fast and accurate dental 3D printing solution that will work seamlessly with their existing Ceramill equipment and processes. This new partnership with Amann Girrbach is an important milestone in our strategy to redefine digital dentistry and demonstrate our ability to optimize production workflows.”
Certain statements made in this release that are not statements of historical or current facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company to be materially different from historical results or from any future results or projections expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. In many cases, forward looking statements can be identified by terms such as “believes,” “belief,” “expects,” “may,” “will,” “estimates,” “intends,” “anticipates” or “plans” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are based upon management’s beliefs, assumptions and current expectations and may include comments as to the company’s beliefs and expectations as to future events and trends affecting its business and are necessarily subject to uncertainties, many of which are outside the control of the company. The factors described under the headings “Forward-Looking Statements” and “Risk Factors” in the company’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as other factors, could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected or predicted in forward-looking statements. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, forward-looking statements are not, and should not be relied upon as a guarantee of future performance or results, nor will they necessarily prove to be accurate indications of the times at which such performance or results will be achieved. The forward-looking statements included are made only as the date of the statement. 3D Systems undertakes no obligation to update or review any forward-looking statements made by management or on its behalf, whether as a result of future developments, subsequent events or circumstances or otherwise.
About Amann Girrbach
Amann Girrbach, one of the leading innovators and full-service provider in digital dental prosthetics, is championing the cause to enable a complete in-house process chain for its customers. As a result, labs profit from perfect quality frameworks, but also from efficiently arranged workflows, reproducibility and dependable processing and a sophisticated CAD/CAM material range. Thus, the Ceramill CAD/CAM system is one of the most versatile and technically adept on the market which incorporates 35 years’ experience and know-how in CAD/CAM. The high degree of inhouse production spanning the product idea up to final assembly allows Amann Girrbach to adapt its systems to economic and dental-specific requirements right from scratch.
Get more information about Amann Girrbach at www.amanngirrbach.com.
About 3D Systems
3D Systems is the originator of 3D printing and an innovator of future 3D solutions. It has spent its 30-year history enabling professionals and companies to optimize their designs, transform their workflows, bring groundbreaking products to market and drive new business models. This is achieved with the Company’s best of breed digital manufacturing ecosystem. It’s comprised of plastic and metal 3D printers, print materials, on demand manufacturing services and end-to-end manufacturing software solutions. Combinations of these products and services address a variety of advanced applications- ranging from Aerospace, Automotive, and Consumer Goods to Medical, Dental, and Jewelry. For example, 3D Systems’ precision healthcare capabilities include simulation, Virtual Surgical Planning, and printing of medical and dental devices as well as patient-specific surgical instruments. More information on the company is available at www.3dsystems.com.
Argen Corporation Acquires Dale Dental
San Diego, CA., June 28, 2018 – The Argen Corporation has announced that they have acquired Dale Dental Lab, based out of Texas.
“Dale Dental Lab’s business model shifted from lab-to-lab to lab-to-dentist under a new name, YDL Concert Dental Lab. Since Argen works exclusively with dental labs, it was an excellent match and opportunity for Argen to acquire the lab business,” said Michael Clark, Argen Senior Vice President, Domestic Sales.
“Argen has a strong reputation in the industry of service to dental labs and is a leader in digital technologies,” said Felix Silva, VP, YDL Concert Dental Lab. “We are working with Argen every step of the way to ensure a smooth transition for our customers.”
The multi-phased transition will take place over a 30-day period. Dale Dental Lab customers can send models to Argen for case design and restoration manufacturing. Questions about the acquisition or transition can be directed to Michael Clark, Argen Senior VP, Domestic Sales (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more than 50 years Argen, a family-owned American company and partner to dental labs worldwide, has served the dental industry and continues to invest in new and innovative product offerings to provide dental labs with affordable, high-performance products and industry-leading customer service. Argen.com
Axsys Dental Solutions has announced that they have entered into an agreement with Medit to distribute their new i5OO intraoral scanner.
“The i500 has been designed with all of Medit’s celebrated and ground-breaking quality in mind and will also prove a game changer on price.” According to a press release on the Axsys Dental Website.
“Costing just $18,000, with no license fees, Medit has created the i500 to be the essential value-added technology. Using the most technologically advanced high-speed dual camera system for fast, hyper precise photogrammetry, the scanner is powderless, and lightweight with a fine tip for ease of use and patient comfort.”The i500 uses an open CAD/CAM system, meaning operators can export STL files out of the MeditLINK management software and instantly share them with the dental lab, or transfer files and track your progress throughout the digital workflow.
Using an “intelligent scan detecting algorithm”, the i500 is touted as “also easily pick(ing) up where it left off if the scanning process is interrupted, making for a smoother scanning experience.”
With the i500, there’s no need to worry about choppy results because it takes rapid, video-based scans. The final image is smoother, more accurate, and error-free, and its smart technology means its colored scans can distinguish between soft tissue, plaque, and tooth enamel with a precision of 25 microns across the full arch.
“We diligently researched intraoral scanners and found the Medit i500 meets all of our stringent requirements for speed, flexibility, accuracy, and reliability, at a price that is affordable and accessible to all,” stated President Steve Braykovich of Axsys Incorporated. “Its impressive speed and powderless system shortens turnaround time for remarkable increases in productivity – and it clearly stands out as the most the most accurate cross arch IOS that we have investigated. By adding the Medit i500 to our portfolio, we’re able to say we have best-in-class offerings for every stage of workflow. If you’re just starting out and want a cost-effective introduction to all the benefits of digital dental workflow, this is a fantastic option. And for practices looking for a chair-side system, they can come to us for complete solutions that are impossible to beat in terms of performance and affordability.”
About Axsys Dental Solutions
AxSys Incorporated is a provider of open solutions to the dental industry. Axsys products include a full line of CAD/CAM scanning software, scanners, milling machines, tooling, furnaces, and zirconia.Founded in 1994 as a provider of “best in class” CAD/CAM software solutions from CNC Software and Delcam International, Axsys has extensive experience in providing computer based design and manufacturing solutions to a wide variety of industries supporting all types of manufacturing processes. Axsys has the unique ability to leverage its extensive CAD, CAM, and manufacturing experience and its relationships with software, material and machine suppliers to provide dental labs and milling centers with the open products and services necessary to compete and be profitable.
Medit was founded in 2000 as an industrial scanning solutions company. In 2008, Medit began manufacturing model and impression 3D scanners for dental labs and clinics. Developing our own patented state-of-the-art technology, Medit’s mission is to provide the opportunity for success and growth to both our clients and employees. Our goal is to become the world’s No.1 provider of 3D measurement and dental CAD/CAM solutions through constant innovation.