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An interview with Flemming Thorup, President & CEO of 3Shape

In this interview article, 3Shape's President and CEO Flemming Thorup answers some key questions about 3Shape, CAD/CAM technologies and the dental industry. Read some of his insightful views about the digital arena - and how he believes technology can help advance business in both labs and clinics.

3Shape has a reputation for providing a continuous flow of new CAD/CAM solutions. How do you achieve this?
We continuously invest in innovation, partially by gathering the best 3D software and hardware development experts. Today we employ more than 175 developers along with experienced dental technicians and dentists, and we maintain close cooperation with dental professionals and labs around the world where new ideas are born and our solutions are evaluated in the actual lab and clinical work.

3Shape develops and delivers both CAD software and 3D scanners. Is there a reason?
3D scanners and design software integrated into one system give many advantages in terms of system performance, smooth workflows and thus the overall speed for completing cases. 3Shapes scanners capture information such as texture data that the software is specifically designed to utilize for better designs. With solutions such as TRIOS and Communicate™, our integration concepts go beyond the labs' system. 3Shape also develops its solutions to support smooth integration over complete workflows - starting from clinics, through the lab, and ending with manufacturing in milling centers. That is why we maintain our principles of openness and flexible interfacing in all our system components.

What type of lab is best suited for 3Shape scanners?
Labs of any size can benefit from CAD/CAM because CAD/CAM systems can be matched to labs specific business models making them good investments. 3Shape knows that labs differ, both in terms of size and the range of services they provide. That is why 3Shape offers both entry-level and more advanced solutions for both scanners and software. We see a rapid development of new materials for prosthetic restorations and believe that CAD/CAM offers the best way to take full advantage of these while opening up new business opportunities. In our opinion, all labs can benefit from new digital technologies.

How do 3Shape help labs and clinics stay up to date?

Flemming Thorup

3Shape believes that a dynamic and continuously up-to-date system should be a natural trait of any CAD /CAM solution for labs. We include unlimited upgrading as an integral part of our LAB care(TM) package and customer promise. For labs this means they can automatically and regularly empower their system with the latest technologies; their system represents a future-secure investment—it stays alive for years to come, growing stronger and more competitive every year. Another key part of LABcare™ is access to an efficient support network, and the 3Shape Academy that provides hands-on training, Webinars and learning materials to ensure users can utilize all features of their system. We offer similar care concepts with our digital solutions for clinics such as TRIOS.

Where do you see the largest potential for growth in CAD/CAM dentistry?
We see potential both in the high-end sophisticated solutions like implant bars and major restorative constructions as well as in the design and digital production of Removable Partials. We also see growth in general business areas. Many labs that provide supplementary services for their dentists are winning territory in relation to production-only labs. One of the 3Shapes missions is to provide service features that help labs help their dentists. We have already developed digital temporaries, the model builder, virtual diagnostic wax-ups, online communication tools, and we have many more service tools in the coming release.

With TRIOS, 3Shape recently entered the clinic-side scanning market. How does this move benefit dentistry as a whole?
Digitizing the process efficiently at the clinic with an intraoral scanner is a natural step in simplifying the workflow between the dentist and the lab. With the right approach, this technology brings huge advantages to both dentists and labs. While developing TRIOS, we focused largely on providing accurate impressions and improving communication between labs and dentists. TRIOS output arrives directly in the lab's CAD/CAM system. The system includes efficient communication and visualization tools, allowing labs and dentists to discuss cases while viewing the 3D model. The accuracy of the digital impression helps labs provide optimal results and additionally offer dentists new digital services while providing the full scope of dental indications and technician expertise. The TRIOS solution is designed to strengthen the ties between technicians and dentists, and strengthen the profitability of both clinic and lab services.

How do you see the future of the market and your own systems?
We foresee continued development by the material manufacturers to capitalize even more on the advantages of digitized dentistry, along with software integration of different image technologies, design and production processes, new lab-dentist service tools, communication, training, and enhanced information sharing. Intuitive software and features like texture scanning, that utilize or mimic manual techniques in digital workflows, will help increase the use of CAD/CAM. We will continue to create solutions that directly answer challenges within the industry so that both labs and clinics can compete and prosper. Our vision - full digital dentistry– is getting closer every day. 

“Our mission is to secure the future of dental labs and clinics with timeless technology.” — Flemming Thorup