Used CAD/CAM Dentistry Buyer's Guide
Trying to decide which CAD/CAM dentistry system is right for you? With so many different options available, it can be difficult to choose. We’ve put together a list of the 3 main things to consider when purchasing a pre-owned CEREC.
You have lots of choices when selecting the brand of CAD/CAM for your office.
However, if you want to offer single-visit restorations to your patients, you need both a scanner and a mill. In that case, we only recommend 2 options from the pre-owned market: Sirona or E4D Technologies.
CEREC by Sirona
CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restorations of Esthetic Ceramic, (or for Ceramic Reconstruction, depending on whom you ask). It’s one of the most popular CAD/CAM systems.
There are currently 3 main generations of CEREC acquisition units available. Here they are, oldest to newest:
(There are also Connect models that send data directly to a lab, but we’ll discuss those in another post.)
Redcam units are the cheapest option by far, but are no longer supported by Sirona.
Of the 3 generations, Bluecams currently offer the best balance of affordability and usability. They are still supported by Sirona, offer excellent image quality and intuitive controls, and can be purchased pre-owned for reasonable prices.
Omnicam units are still the most desired and offer the most features. Those extra features, including powderless scanning, come with a much higher purchase price.
You can find 4 main milling machines on the pre-owned market to pair with your CEREC.
The CEREC 3 is the oldest model. Sadly it’s time has passed and it’s not in very high demand these days.
The MC is the most basic of the newest milling machines from Sirona. We don’t see these come through our store very often. This model only allows block sizes up to 20 mm and is a good choice for beginners.
The MC X offers the same features as the MC, plus more chairside treatment options and block size compatibility up to 40 mm.
The MC XL model is hailed as the “premium package’ by Sirona. It can do onlays, inlays, crowns, bridges, veneers, abutments, and all laboratory indications. The MC XL is compatible with all CAD/CAM materials. This is the most popular model on the pre-owned market.
E4D Technologies (formerly D4D Technologies) produces the E4D Dentist system. It uses a laser scanner for image acquisition, so no powder is required.
PlanScan and Nevo are updated versions of the E4D acquisition unit. They are lightweight, handheld wands that connect to a laptop and are very popular among doctors. In addition to tooth image acquisition, they can be used to create digital models of impressions.
All E4D systems can be paired with an E4D milling machine.
In addition to CEREC and E4D Technologies, there are several other popular brands on the pre-owned CAD/CAM market. For more details, visit our Used CAD/CAM Product Guide.
2. Software and Hardware Version
When purchasing a pre-owned CEREC acquisition unit, be sure to find out the unit’s software and hardware versions.
Sirona continually releases software updates to improve performance. CEREC 4.0 and newer software versions require a Windows 7 64-bit operating system.
Is having the newest CEREC software for your machine necessary? Absolutely not. You can take your CEREC “off the grid” and utilize its current state of technology just fine. However, without the support from Patterson you may run into some issues if your machine breaks down and its software is out of date.
If the previous owner kept the Patterson Service Club agreement up to date, there's a good chance your pre-owned unit will have all of the current software upgrades.
To find a CEREC unit’s hardware version, locate the 2-letter code on the PC frame on the back of the unit. For Redcams and Bluecams, higher letter combinations equal newer motherboards, which in turn mean better CPU, graphics cards, and memory. For Omnicams, instead of a 2-letter code you will find a “V” followed by the hardware version.
Having updated software is also important when using an E4D system. If using the E4D Dentist acquisition unit, the software is located on the unit PC itself. For the PlanScan and Nevo versions, the software usually needs to be installed on a laptop that connects to the unit.
Having up-to-date software is not essential for using E4D systems, but is recommended.
3. Mill Time
Like your car’s mileage, the mill time on a milling machine lets you know how much wear it has undergone. The more mills, the greater the wear, and the more likely it will require service or repair.
To find the milling time on a CEREC unit, the owner can perform the following steps:
- Navigate to the Start menu on the acquisition unit.
- Click on “All Program.”
- Hover over the word “CEREC” and select “Service” from the dropdown menu.
- Enter the current password.
- Click on “Milling Unit Info,” and the next page will display the milling minutes.
These steps will vary slightly depending on the model, but they should provide a basic outline of where the owner can locate this information.
For E4D units, follow these steps to find the milling time:
- Navigate to the “Advanced” menu option and click “Select.”
- Navigate to the “Technician console” menu option and click “Select.”
- Once the screen loads, click the on-screen button titled “Configuration.”
- Once the screen loads, click “Counters” in the top left corner of the screen.
If the current owner doesn’t know how to locate the mill time, provide them with these steps. Any trustworthy seller should be willing to find this info for you before asking you to purchase a pre-owned unit.
Join the CAD/CAM Dentistry Ranks
Ready to continue your journey to becoming a CAD/CAM dentist? Or maybe you’re searching for a backup or replacement CAD/CAM system. Either way, hop over to our CAD/CAM Dentistry Product Guide for more help making this big decision.