Dental laboratory scanners are an important piece of equipment, and you have many options to choose from. This process can be overwhelming even if you have experience purchasing this machine. When you're evaluating new scanners for your dental lab, use this guide to narrow down the field to the ones that will work best for your unique needs.
How Important is Resolution?
You hear a lot about a dental scanner's resolution when you're looking through the data sheets and sales material. If you've ever used a digital camera or taken pictures with your smartphone, you're probably used to hearing megapixel numbers that reach or exceed 20 megapixels.
It's not surprising that you might be confused when you discover that a 3D scanner for dental labs has significantly fewer megapixels. You're dropping from 20 to single digits, when you expected the opposite from a professional piece of equipment.
Resolution itself is nowhere near the most important factor in selecting a dental scanner.
Resolution is nowhere near the most important factor in selecting a dental scanner. You're not trying to take pictures of city skylines or natural landscapes. Your lab is looking for specific parts on the digital model, rather than trying to get as much detail as possible in the entire image. Your goals are much different and don't require the same amount of megapixels as a typical digital camera. Make sure to approach your decision making with a mindset that understands the requirements of the medical world.
Fact or Marketing Fiction
Medical device manufacturers put the scanner's resolution front and center in their sales pitches. It's an impressive sounding number and many buyers will have at least some familiarity with megapixels.
Once you start digging down into what you actually get if you choose the highest resolution, you may discover that you'll run into problems with that particular dental laboratory scanner. The basic concept behind these devices is that the X, Y and Z points get calculated through a set of sensors and triangulation. With a higher resolution, you end up with more data that gets processed at all three points.
That might sound impressive, but what actually happens is that your computers have to work harder to produce the scan. Instead of saving you time, you may be introducing a device that puts costly delays into your scanning workflow. More is not always better, and you're not seeing many positive upgrades if you choose the higher-end model. However, you do end up paying a substantially higher price if you buy-in to this low-hanging marketing talking point.
Accuracy is Your Best Return on Investment
Accuracy is the key to a quality dental laboratory scanner purchase. The resolution of your scan is important, but it doesn't amount to much if everything is out of alignment. You need equipment that makes it possible to create a highly accurate digital model that corresponds as closely as possible to the patient's unique structure.
You need equipment that makes it possible to create a highly accurate digital model.
A scanner with low accuracy can't line the scan up with the shape, size or any other element in the mouth and jaw. You end up with scans that need to be repeated, which leads to a lot of time wasted and frustration on everyone's end. When you opt for a device that's highly accurate, you'll see improvements throughout your dental lab.
Other Factor to Keep in Mind
While accuracy is one of the most important points to evaluate with a dental scanner, you also need to look at the functionality, reliability and speed of the model. After all, it's hard to stay productive if you have a device that breaks down frequently, doesn't have the core features that you need or takes far too long to produce a scan.
You also need to look at the functionality, reliability and speed of the model to get the best out of your investment.
In the long-term, you're going to benefit much more if you focus on buying the most accurate devices over those with the most megapixels. The dental offices you work with can help their patients faster and you optimize your lab's processes. While you still need to look at the resolution during the evaluation, pay much more attention to whether you're going to get data that you can work with from the first scan.