Manufacturing process of a zirconium oxide crown

There is no way around it: the future of dentistry is inevitably digital. As CAD/CAM replaces traditional workflows and becomes the standard in dentistry, digital solutions have become a necessity for every dental practice. But as with any craft, quality depends on the skills of the dentist, assistant, or technician. Digital dental technology reduces the risks and uncertainties caused by human factors and provides greater consistency, accuracy, and precision at every stage of the workflow. CAD dental software provides visual interfaces and views similar to traditional work processes, but in addition, certain steps can be automated, dental procedures improved and work processes optimised. As a result, errors are easier to identify and correct. In the following text, digital fabrication of a fully anatomical crown is introduced and the process flow is described in detail.

Impression taking / Scanning

Since manual impressions are increasingly being replaced by intraoral scanners, the recording of the individual patient anatomy also begins with digital production. Alternatively, optical desktop scanners in dental laboratories can capture traditional impressions or plaster models. In the traditional working process, the practice takes a physical impression of the patient, sends it to a dental laboratory, which makes the necessary models, dentures, or other indications, which the laboratory then sends back to the practice for treatment. Each intraoral scan shortens the treatment time and reduces the amount of work. It also eliminates material costs and eliminates the need to send impressions to a dental laboratory.

Exocad – CAD Software

There is immediate feedback and there are no manual errors such as cavities, bubbles, or cracks, so impressions do not have to be taken again. Once the dentition is digitally captured, the crown is designed using CAD software. Highly visual interfaces are used, offering functions such as virtual articulators, with which dental technicians are familiar. The digital design enables simpler, more precise treatments and simplified communication. Once the treatments are designed, the models can be exported for production. If a new fabrication is required, the same digital design can be used without additional work. Thus, reproducibility is a digital benefit.


Millbox – CAM Software

After the crown has been exported by the CAD software, the nesting (the positioning of the crown in the workpiece, also called blank, from which it is to be milled. For monolithic crowns, as in this case, only multi-layer blanks are used, as they simulate the tooth structure of a natural tooth and therefore come very close to a natural tooth. Not only visually but also with their technical properties such as strength.

The CAM software, in this case, the Millbox from the company CIM system then calculates the optimum milling paths which have been individually programmed for each material.  Once the calculation has been made, the milling files are sent to the milling machine to create a physical one from our digital crown.

Milling DWX-52DCI

Milling machines can combine orders, work unattended, and even at night, allowing a laboratory to benefit from an extra shift without incurring labor costs. The latest professional systems are now so cost-effective that dental laboratories of all sizes can benefit from them. In our case, we used the DWX-52DCI milling machine from DGSHAPE a Roland DG Company (Japan).


The DWX-52DCi 5-axis dental milling unit enables automated processing of a wide range of materials thanks to its 15-fold tool changer. The tool kits used by DGSHAPE ensure the long tool life of the milling tools of up to 180 hours.

The 6-fold blank changer additionally takes over the night shift and thus increases your productivity by turning night into day. Here too, the brush function ensures that the blanks are further processed in a health-friendly manner.

After the milling process, the blanks are returned from the machine in the blank changer dust-free.

In addition, this milling machine benefits from the specially designed high-performance spindle from our own company, which accordingly keeps the follow-up costs (maintenance) very low.


Milled crown in blank

After the milling machine has placed the blank in the changer, we can remove it with the crown freed from milling dust. The flood of new CAD/CAM-capable materials such as zirconium or lithium disilicate, which can only be used and processed via the digital process, not only ensures a portfolio expansion of the product range but also fully meets aesthetic requirements.

 The flood of new CAD/CAM-capable materials such as zirconium or lithium disilicate, which can only be used and processed via the digital process, not only ensures a portfolio expansion of the product range but also fully meets aesthetic requirements.


Final review

Left: Designed crown digital as STL. Right: Finished crown painted and ready for insertion.

One of the main benefits of digital technologies is the improvement of the patient experience and comfort. A satisfied patient is more likely to come back and make recommendations, which contributes to the long-term success of a dental practice. Digital tools also simplify communication between dentist and patient and between the practice and the laboratory. The result of all this: Digital dental technology ensures faster treatments, fewer appointments, and reduced manufacturing costs for better clinical results.


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