As 3D printing increases in utilization, the usage of CAD software becomes an important step in this digital process. It allows orthodontic labs to take a raw digital image and turn it into a useful design that can be 3D printed. The disadvantage of CAD software in orthodontics is that most of it comes at a significant monetary investment with upfront purchases and monthly service costs. For the basic user, and brand new owner of a 3D printer, this is can be quite a realization.
Fortunately, there are inexpensive workflows and free software solutions that help those starting the journey into 3D printing. The peril lies in the fact that I often see the temptation at “working” the CAD software much more than is necessary. Keep your uses of CAD software to a very specific goal, and consider all options as more efficient workflows become available.
The facet of time efficiency is a key component, especially bringing digital workflow in-house. It is up to each doctor and in-house lab to determine their time efficiency, labor costs, and material costs to make the best decision in a digital workflow. Some steps are a no brainer bringing in-house due to improvement in patient experience, savings in lab fees, and faster turn-around. In some circumstances, I see a lot of doctor time consumed, or inefficient digital workflows used, that would be best delegated. Sometimes that delegation should be to outside labs that have greater expertise and efficiency than a less experienced in-house lab setup. Other solutions include investing in training for a highly effective lab team.
To avoid risks in time consuming CAD workflow, consider proper lab delegation and lab training. Leverage your team and delegate accordingly. Whenever you incorporate new processes into your practice, take a look at the big picture. Start lean and mean, and don’t hesitate to invest in efficient software that saves in labor costs. Improving your lab team’s experience and ability are key to minimize risking increased doctor time in lab procedures.