AI-Driven Design Service Targets Dental Labs

Dentistry Today


3Shape introduced artificial intelligence (AI) technology to its TRIOS intraoral scanner two years ago to make scanning simpler. AI was used to automatically remove soft tissue while intraoral scanning with TRIOS.

The company then began adding the technology to its software to make designing faster by having the AI perform time-consuming manual workflow steps. With the launch of 3Shape Automate, the company says it has introduced the world’s first dental design service platform exclusively powered by AI technology.

Available from the 3Shape website, 3Shape Automate is an easy to use, self-service design service geared to dental lab technicians needing to cope with rush periods and overflow orders, the company said. 

Dental technicians simply set up an unlimited number of orders with their customized design instructions and upload their scans to the Automate website, 3Shape said. Automate’s AI technology then returns every dental design proposal in as little as five minutes, regardless of the number of designs ordered, according to 3Shape.

Karl Hollenbeck, head of the 3Shape AutodontiX business unit, a division dedicated to developing AI technology applications within dentistry, discussed the new technology with Dentistry Today

Why launch 3Shape Automate?

Hollenbeck: 3Shape Automate is about making life easier for lab technicians. We have made the service very simple to use. It’s really just two steps, upload and download.

Lab technicians simply upload their orders to Automate from Dental System, Exocad, or even a non-3Shape scanner. You specify a few preferences. Otherwise, everything that is in the material that comes with the order is respected. All the parameters. The computer kicks off the calculations, and as soon as five minutes later, you have a design sent back to you, ready for review. It is completely hands-free, self-service, and open 24/7.

How can labs be sure of the design quality?

Hollenbeck: Being able to review and approve the design is part of the Automate workflow. When your design is complete, you receive a preview image of it, all the relevant aspects, including a good screenshot of the margin line. You can check for undercuts. You get a good view of the contacts. You can check the distances and the closest points. You get several views of the situation as a whole. You then decide if you approve the design or not. And importantly, you only pay for the designs you approve.

In our testing, we created over 65,000 designs for US labs and achieved an over 92% design approval rate. So, we know it works great, it’s consistent, and above all, it’s easy!

What is the advantage for labs to use Automate?

Hollenbeck: I would say for labs, there are three very big advantages: speed, consistency, and scalability. But for me, I think the greatest advantage Automate gives labs is scalability.

Most labs experience rush periods or have times when they need to cope with an overflow of orders. Maybe a designer is out sick or on vacation. Automate instantly reduces any need for overtime or stress for your technicians. You simply fill the gap by taking advantage of Automate for your basic restorative design needs, choose a delivery time, and bam, you are ready for production.

Think about how much more cost-effective your manufacturing processes can be. Your lab’s blank management is much more efficient because you collect cases and simply match them with the right blanks.

And remember, because Automate is AI driven and hands-free, you can upload an unlimited amount, hundreds of cases, to the platform, and still choose your deliver time for five minutes. They will be ready when you are.

For me, scalability is really the name of the game. Automate gives you instant scalability, production-wise, and in managing your lab.

What types of indications does Automate produce?

Hollenbeck: For now, Automate offers single crowns. They need to be monolithic and posterior crowns: premolars and molars. We are planning to expand the software’s applications to other indications, but again, Automate is about helping labs deal with their overflow work, where the aesthetics are not as important, like in posterior crowns rather than anterior restorations.

How much does it cost to use the service?

Hollenbeck: We’ve tried to make Automate as economical as possible. The pricing is based on the design turnaround time with design costs starting as low as $1.99 per crown design and a 10-hour turnaround time. You can choose as little as a five-minute turnaround time for your rush orders. And importantly, even if you choose five minutes, you can still upload a thousand scans and get your thousand designs back in five minutes. That’s the power of AI technology!

And as I mentioned, you review every design and only pay for the designs you approve and download. And, by the way, 3Shape LabCare customers receive a 10% discount on all Automate designs.

How do labs get started?

Hollenbeck: I would recommend that labs try it. Labs can try it for free with a $50 credit to see how it works. The self service is available 24/7 from the 3Shape website at It’s easy to create an account

And just to reassure labs, Automate design technology is FDA registered in the United States and CE Marked. There’s also email customer support available from FullContour.

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