We all recognise that the wide-ranging skills and traditional craftsmanship of 21st century dental technicians remain at the forefront of positive patient outcomes and satisfaction.
That said, there can be no doubt that the advent of digital dentistry techniques and workflows are becoming an increasingly evident influence in today’s technology-led dental laboratories.
Whether your dental laboratory is a ‘one man band’, annexed to a dental surgery or a bigger outfit with a multi-functional team of technicians, making that first move into the world of digital dentistry can be a scary prospect.
And an expensive one too, right?
Well, no, that doesn’t have to be the case!
Meet Blender For Dental.
Blender For Dental is a true global gamechanger and its beauty lies in the fact that it’s been designed by dental technicians for dental technicians.
And it’s affordable!
Sure, there’s a learning curve and maybe some new terms to get your teeth into, but the approach of the Blender For Dental team, coupled with support from UK sole distributors here at Blueprint Dental, mean you’re guided and supported at every stage, whilst maintaining your ability to use your artistic ability and, in most cases, the workflows you’ve put in place to meet your clients’ demands.
So, if you come across some new terms relating to the nuances of digital impressions and 3D printing – fear not – help is always at hand!
So, how did Blender For Dental all start?
Well, to give you a potted history, in the 1990s a chap called Ton Roosendaal launched a free, open-source 3D software for creating, amongst other things, 3D printed models.
Fast forward a few years and the idea was seized upon by innovative dental technicians, Michael & Wolfgang Teiniker, who realised the potential of designing modules for dental CAD applications.
And what makes it so special?
Where do we start! There are a number of pure joys in the Blender For Dental approach, which will just delight you as a dental technician and have enabled it to happily flex its muscles against the big boys of dental CAD.
First up is that its basis is the free to download, open source, Blender software. Once you’ve installed that, all you need to do is purchase and download the modules you require for your business.
Easy peasy & economical.
Typically, you’ll spend no more than £300 getting yourself set up with the modules you need to get going.
The second point that you’ll just love about getting started with Blender is that there are no annual subscriptions or upgrade fees, so your on-going costs are significantly lower too.
And thirdly, the support is awesome.
Each module comes with an online tutorial and, what’s more, you can earn yourself valuable CPD points in the process of learning. And, if you’re ever flummoxed or stuck, the expert team at Blueprint Dental are always on hand to offer their industry-renowned support as well.
Plus, the aforementioned Blender For Dental architects, Michael & Wolfgang Teiniker, also remain actively involved in the blossoming Blender For Dental global community, hosting a weekly Zoom call in which dental technicians can explore many areas of the software that increase the user experience.
As dental technicians through and through, they remain very hands on and are open to any requests to change or add features. Feedback is really important to them and is used to frequently update and improve existing modules and in the development of new features and functionality.
How to get started
It all begins with the model creator module and grows from there.
Any type of dental model can be created from three file formats, STL, OBJ and PLY, in a straightforward, fast and logical way.
As we mentioned earlier there is some learning involved and the software operates in a different way from what we are used to.
But there’s no need to be put off.
It’s tempting to compare Blender to other popular CAD programs, but that could be construed as missing the point. Perhaps a more poignant way of approaching it is to rethink how appliances are manufactured in the digital world, whilst still enabling skilled dental technicians to express themselves through their work, ultimately providing the highest standards of patient satisfaction.
Once the basics have been mastered, the knowledge of how CAD programs operate becomes understandable, which in turn puts the power into the hands of the technician. With B4D you get to delve into a world of vertices, surfaces, and edges.
Now, show us a dental technician who doesn’t relish the thought of that?!
What modules are available?
Guide Designer Module
Gum Designer Module
There are already a plethora of modules available to complement the model design module, enabling you to incorporate all areas of your dental laboratory workflow.
Currently you can set yourself up with modules for the following:
· Gum design module
· Splint design module
· Tray design module
· Crown and bridge work
· Implant crowns and components
· Blockout module
· Articulator & facebow
· ICP alignment tool
· Guide designer
· Gum Designer
· Logo designer
· Bleaching Trays
· Bracket Remover
· Diagnostic Wax up
The development of the software continues with more implant companies allowing their libraries to be used, expanding the variety available to users. The open-source theme runs alongside the software with users able to create their own tooth libraries and integrate them with the software.
Meet the expert
Andrew Wheeler of AW Precision Ceramics has been at the forefront of the introduction and use of Blender For Dental in the UK and is widely regarded as the UK’s specialist on ‘all things Blender’, as well as being an accredited trainer.
As an experienced and well-respected dental technician in his own right Andrew says of the software. “If you are starting out on the digital journey this is an excellent way to get on board. It is fully customizable and, in a market where CAD tends to take away the individuality of our work, Blender For Dental gives you a way of standing apart from the crowd. There are numerous options to design your models in a creative way and with the addition of adding your logo onto models and trays, your laboratory can stand apart.”
In addition, our Sales and Marketing Director, Sharaz Mir, explains the ethos behind Blender For Dental. “Blender For Dental was set up by two Australian brothers whose vision was to bring affordable dental CAD to every dental technician who would like to embrace digital techniques.
“The software is easy to use and the team are approachable and flexible, always working to provide enhancements and push forward with new modules for both traditional design work and more complex orthodontic techniques.
“We would welcome anybody who would like to find out more to join one of our introductory webinars in which we discuss the merits of the Blender For Dental approach.”
So, in summary, yes, there’s a learning curve and yes adopting digital CAD technologies may take a little time to master.
But, one thing is clear. Putting your faith in the Blender For Dental approach will enable you to maintain your individual flair and craftsmanship, whilst adopting cutting edge and ever progressing digital technology in your dental laboratory.
And all whilst remaining in pocket and in control of your software and designs.
Find out more about how you can join the Blender For Dental community here.
We’d love to have you as part of the family.
We would like to acknowledge and thank Andrew Wheeler of AW Precision Ceramics for his input into this article.