Editor’s Intro: The Planmeca Group—a leader in health care technology — heads into the future, designing and manufacturing high-end digital products that will transform dentistry.
A global leader in health care technology
Shiny white design and devices with colors from metallic silver to lime green, 3D-printed skulls of humans and pets in illuminated glass display cabinets, touchscreens surrounding the devices that look like they’re parts of a spaceship. This futuristic yet inviting pastel-colored scene is not part of a science fiction novel but is reality in a showroom in Helsinki, Finland. This showroom belongs to the Planmeca Group, a company that develops and manufactures cutting-edge Finnish health care technology.
Planmeca Group’s product range covers high-technology dental care equipment, world-class 2D- and 3D-imaging devices, comprehensive CAD/CAM and software solutions, mammography systems as well as dental instruments, supplies, and services.
President and founder of Planmeca, Heikki Kyöstilä, has seen his company and the industry evolve hand-in-hand. Forty-seven years ago, in 1971, Kyöstilä saw a market opportunity for manufacturing dental equipment after doing business for German companies in the same field and decided to start a company of his own. Today, the parent company of the group, Planmeca Oy, is the third-largest dental equipment manufacturer in the world and also the largest privately owned company in the field.
“It was all about hard work and an urge to put Finland on the map. And today, Planmeca is a global leader in health care technology,” said Kyöstilä.
Planmeca’s aim is to create functional, durable, and beautifully designed products that stand the test of time. Planmeca’s dental care units, X-rays, and software solutions are all designed and manufactured in Finland. Using the latest technology and the best materials, products are tailored to meet the needs of dental professionals in different markets. Planmeca Group’s advanced mammography and orthopedic imaging products are manufactured by the group’s subsidiary Planmed Oy.
Plandent Division of the group is the biggest dental supply and service chain in Northern Europe. The division consists of comprehensive dental supply houses, which offer innovative digital solutions and supply high-tech equipment manufactured by Planmeca. The division also offers a comprehensive selection of high-quality materials and instruments from the world’s leading manufacturers.
Over 98% of products manufactured by Planmeca are exported around the world. Planmeca Group operates in over 120 countries, employing nearly 2,700 people worldwide.
Kyöstilä explains that a strong commitment to building customer relationships around the world and a passion for innovation guide everything the company does. Customers provide the company with the focus to consistently develop revolutionary technology and gain a deep understanding of the needs of dental and health care professionals. He believes these values have led them to where they are today — at the forefront of the dental industry.
Strong commitment to R&D
The secret behind the success and never-ending innovation decade after decade is, according to Kyöstilä, a strong and unwavering commitment to R&D.
“As a privately owned company, we are in control of our own destiny and able to make the long-term R&D commitments that are the driving force behind our innovations. We also collaborate closely with health care professionals and leading universities. I firmly believe that this dedication to continuous development will enable us to make the work of dental professionals easier and more efficient for many years to come.”
Up to 10% of the company’s annual revenues are invested in R&D. Planmeca’s in-house R&D department employs 140 people: a mixed group of experts, including software, mechanics, and electronics engineers together with usability and industrial designers. Unrivaled scientific knowledge and in-depth understanding of clinical workflows are vital parts of the product development.
A digital pioneer
Already in the late 1990s, Planmeca realized that a shared software platform would be the logical next step, bringing diagnostics and treatment planning into a single workflow. Planmeca’s solution for this was, and still is, the ever-evolving Planmeca Romexis®, an all-in-one software connecting all of the equipment in a dental clinic.
In 2011, Planmeca launched the concept of digital perfection. The company took digital imaging to the next level by enabling the combination of three different 3D datasets (photo, X-ray data, and digital impression) into one complete 3D model.
Planmeca was also among the forerunners to market the integration of CAD/CAM to dental treatment units. Due to the open-source STL file format of Planmeca’s CAD/CAM solutions, it is easy for dentists to connect with the rapidly growing computer-aided dental manufacturing community. The Planmeca FIT™ solution offers dentists a completely integrated and digital workflow with three simple steps — ultra-fast intraoral scanning, sophisticated design, and high-precision chairside milling. All of this is seamlessly integrated into Planmeca Romexis software.
CAD/CAM dentistry is an integral part of Planmeca today — a wide range of open architecture CAD/CAM solutions lets the dental professionals choose their preferred way to treat patients, improve workflow, and opens opportunities in growing the business scope. Planmeca’s newest intraoral scanner, Planmeca Emerald™, was designed on an open architecture platform and lets dentists offer more services by collaborating with laboratories or integrating additional equipment within their office.
Planmeca USA, Inc.
Planmeca USA, the North American Subsidiary of Planmeca, was launched in 1987 and the first to introduce the software-driven dental care unit concept in America. For the past 31 years, Planmeca USA has lead the North American dental industry with advanced dental imaging systems starting with film based, then digital 2D, and now 3D-imaging equipment with patented SCARA (Selectively Compliant Articulated Robotic Arm) technology. Today, it is one of the most admired dental-imaging companies in North America.
Planmeca offers one of the most robust product lines in the world, which includes dental care units, dental lights, dental stools, dental cabinets, intraoral X-rays, intraoral sensors, 2D extraoral imaging, 3D imaging products, chairside milling units, and intra-oral scanners.
“The U.S. is one of the most competitive regions in the dental industry. As a company, Planmeca USA is poised to solidify its position as a leader across several categories within the dental market. A strong product line, energized product launches, and an innovative pipeline will provide the company with upward momentum and exciting times for the U.S. division,” states President for Planmeca USA, Edwin J. McDonough.
Planmeca’s newest technology, Planmeca Viso™, has the capability of capturing the industry’s largest single scan volume covering the entire maxillofacial area. McDonough describes the technology — “the innovation that paves the way for the launch of Planmeca 4D™ Jaw Motion, a new exclusive specialty program, is the only CBCT integrated solution for tracking, recording, visualizing, and analyzing jaw movement in 3D in real-time.”
McDonough describes a company initiative that focuses on offering dentists specialty workflows, more treatment options, and ultimately better patient care through efficiency. “With our current products and additions to the product portfolio, Planmeca can offer solutions to meet the needs of patients needing restorations, orthodontics, and even implants. Anticipating the needs of our clinicians is our number one priority. One area of dentistry that we will be exploring in the future is 3D printing. Planmeca Creo™ C5 is a new product tailored to meet the needs of our orthodontic partners and is primed to be a blockbuster for our CAD/CAM Division,” McDonough says.
All of Planmeca’s imaging, dental care units, and CAD/CAM products are built on open-architecture platforms. Designed with clinicians in mind, Planmeca’s upgradable, modular platform allows doctors to keep up with new technology by easily integrating the newest advances in hardware and software.
Elements of future growth
Planmeca has stayed on the cutting-edge of dental products now for almost half a century. The plan is to stay on the cutting-edge in the future too. But what does the future of dentistry and health care technology look like? Kyöstilä sees a digital future ahead.
“We are living in an exciting era. Dentistry is at a crossroads; the digital revolution has already begun. In the future, dentistry will be completely digital, and 3D technology is going to transform the entire field. Software-driven innovations are now the heart of progress, and cloud services are reality. This presents unforeseen opportunities, but also new challenges.”
“The industry is moving from products to services. In a completely digital dental workflow, it will be of paramount importance that all devices and software work together completely seamlessly. The future will not only be digital, but also increasingly mobile. This reality is at the core of all Planmeca product development,” Kyöstilä explained.
When Kyöstilä describes his visions of the industry’s future, phrases like software, industrial internet, 3D printing, CAD/CAM, 3D, and even 4D keep coming up.
“It is our goal to design and manufacture high-end digital products that work together as smoothly as possible. To achieve this, we have been forerunners in building a rich ecosystem of devices, software, and services. Our unrivaled product portfolio covers everything needed in a high-tech dental clinic: all 2D- and 3D-imaging modalities together with digital treatment centers, CAD/CAM systems, and software.”
“Software used to be something people received with the device they purchased, but now software is often the most important product. Software is the brains behind the products. We keep developing our software solutions and improving them constantly. This is all part of our goal to create the most powerful dental ecosystem in the market.”
“At Planmeca, we always operate with the future in mind. The possibilities with CAD/CAM, 3D, and even 4D are endless. I strongly believe that Planmeca will guide dentistry into the future like no one else can.”
Planmeca USA has distribution in the United States and Canada servicing over 160 dealer locations throughout North America. Currently, Planmeca USA maintains 42 sales representatives in the field, one of the best management teams in the industry, and 40 technical support professionals with a total of over 135 employees supporting our North American distributors and doctors.
This information was provided by Planmeca Group.