Thanks to advancement in digital technologies, a growing number of dental offices currently utilize desktop or intra-oral scanners. The benefits of electronic impression-taking have been explored by many writers. They include greater accuracy, enhanced patient convenience and integration with 3D-based services. With more and and more scanner models available in the market, the use of dental scanning has become widespread.
eXceed ALi (Aligners in-office) is one example of a dental CAD-CAM application that utilizes open-source .STL scanner files to produce patient-specific aligner plans. The design files include the sequence of all models representing the correction of the malocclusion from start to end. Next, at the dental office, the eXceed model files are 3D-printed to be used as a basis for the thermoformed aligners. This process is believed to offer considerable benefits to the user, clinical and financial. The objective of this document is to review the various methods by which scan data can be shared with eXceed.
Broadly speaking, scan files can be transmitted directly to the eXceed interface or through a connecting bridge. In the first method, using a «drag and drop» module, the operator uploads the data to the eXceed account by locating and selecting the patient scan files. To provide immediate feedback, the eXceed application mounts the two digital arches in real time and presents them as a fully articulated model. Assuming average uploading speeds and up to 10 MB per arch, this process usually takes 30-40 seconds. This option is open and available to all types of dental scanners, desktop or intra-oral, which generate STL files.
The second method requires the operator to first establish a virtual bridge between the scanning and eXceed platforms. The user should identify eXceed in the scanner software and authorize per-case files sharing. Upon notification, eXceed shall approve the said request and the connection will be opened. Now, the operator no longer has to manually drag and drop scan files between two interfaces but instead, merely identifies the scan/s t that are to be shared with eXceed. Finally, when an order for an eXceed aligner plan is submitted, the eXceed software knows to recognize and push the shared scan files to the processing center.
At present, a bridge with eXceed is offered by two scanner companies, Align Technologies and 3shape. Align is the maker of the iTero intra-oral scanner. To create the integration, one simply has to locate eXceed in the iTero software list of labs and send a connection request. Immediately after the request has been approved, the operator can use the MyAlignetch web portal to share iTero scan files with eXceed over the cloud.
Similarly, 3Shape operates the «3Shape Connect» web site as a management tool for its Trios intra-oral as well as its desktop scanners’ customers. Also in this case, a connection request must be send prior to establishing the bridge (due to 3Shape connect structure, a different eXceed email should be used based on the geographical location of the scanner). Once accepted, scan files could be easily and conveniently shared with eXceed.
With more and more dentists embracing the eXceed solution for in-office aligners production, additional scanner companies are being asked by their customers to introduce similar bridges. One such company is Care Stream, which will be announcing the integration at the upcoming AAO meeting in Washington DC, May 2018. Care Stream will offer the eXceed bridge to its CS 3600 cusotmers through the CS Connect portal. No doubt, we will see more bridge announcements from industry players later in the year.