This is by far the most common question I field in my line of work and is a simple question with a complicated answer. There are so many considerations that it makes an apples to apples comparison quite difficult. In order to provide a “simple-ish” answer, I am going to exclude Redcam and Bluecam from consideration. I am also going to break the answer into two parts: the Omnicam Acquisition Center and the milling unit.
Used Omnicam vs New Omnicam
Generally speaking, Omnicam ACs don’t change a whole lot year over year. You will see a few hardware changes such as an updated processor or graphics card(s), but a 2012 Omnicam is by and large the same machine as a 2018 model. The biggest consideration is whether or not the Omnicam camera is Shade Guide compatible. The ability of the Omnicam camera to detect the tooth shade while scanning was a new feature introduced with CEREC 4.5.2 software. Some of the 2012-2013 production year Omnicam ACs do not have Shade Guide compatible cameras. You can check by entering the Omnicam’s serial number (not to be confused with the AC serial number) into Dentsply Sirona’s database located here. You can find the serial number by removing the mirror sleeve and looking for the number written on the optics tube.
Software is available for free as part of CEREC club membership, so the current software version on a used Omnicam is not a huge consideration because it can be updated to the latest version, which as of today is 4.6.
Used Milling Unit vs New Milling Unit
Part two of the used CEREC vs new CEREC answer requires me to get quite a bit more in-depth. In 2013, Sirona re-branded its milling units, which makes it more difficult to make direct comparisons, but I will do my best to simplify the changes.
2007-2012 MC XL = 2013-2015 MC X
These milling units are by far the most commonly found on the used market. Aside from the name change and going from an automatic block chuck to a manual block chuck these mills are virtually identical, with nearly all the same capabilities. The major change came in 2013, when Sirona added the ability to wet mill zirconia, resins, models, and temporary materials with their Shaper 25 RZ and Finisher 10 Carbide burs. This milling strategy differed from the wet grind process used with glass ceramics and ceramic hybrids. A CEREC MC XL with a serial number >129001 or CEREC MC X with a serial number >231001 is required to use Carbide burs along with CEREC 4.3 SW or higher. If a milling unit’s serial number is below the aforementioned requirements, then it would require a motor upgrade to be Carbide bur compatible. The easiest way to tell if a milling unit has been upgraded with a carbide motor is to look at the sieve or filter at the bottom of the milling chamber. If it’s a mesh sieve that looks like this…
…then its been upgraded with a carbide motor.
2007-2012 inLab MC XL = 2013-2015 MC XL Premium Package
These four-motor milling units are not as commonly found, but you will find a few out there. The inLab MC XL was originally designed for use in lab settings, but was the desired milling unit of enough dentists that Sirona made a clinical version called the MC XL Premium Package. The MC XL Premium Package allows the user to produce custom abutments, milled models, long-span bridges, multi-layer design, and full quadrant restorations. The two motor sets also allow the user to keep different bur sets (i.e. Step Bur 12S/Cylinder Pointed Bur 12S on set 1 and Shaper 25 RZ and Finisher 10 on set 2) to save time while going back and forth from ceramics to other materials.
2007-2015 Mills vs 2016-Current Mills
The main difference between pre-2016 mills and the current group is the ability to dry mill zirconia blocks (subject to certain requirements).
Essentially, the latest model mills have vents inside the milling chamber that suck out the dry dust into an external suction unit. This capability allows the user to skip the pre-drying time during sintering of zirconium oxide. When using Dentsply Sirona’s SpeedFire sintering furnace this pre-drying cycle takes ≈ 12 minutes. According to Dentsply Sirona, this time savings is the only benefit of the dry mill feature.
Simple-ish Put Another Way
If my “simple-ish” answer gave you a headache, then perhaps this format is more helpful:
Do you want to mill zirconia materials?
You: No, I am happy with glass and hybrid ceramics (VITABLOCS, e.max, Empress CAD, Lava Ultimate, VITA ENAMIC, GC Cerasmart, etc.).
→ Then any CEREC Omnicam, MC XL/MC X, and Ivoclar Vivadent Programat CS series crystallization furnace will meet your needs.
You: Yes, I like glass ceramics and hybrids, but I’d be willing to invest more in a system that could do both.
→Then look for a CEREC package at least 2013 or newer with a milling unit serial number > 202001 (MC), > 231001 (MC X), > 129001 (MC XL), > 129001 (inLab MC XL), or > 302001 (MC XL Premium Package) that will allow you to wet mill zirconia. You will also need 4.3 CEREC SW, Premium Software 4.4, or Premium CAM Software 4.4 or later and Shaper 25 RZ/Finisher 10 carbide burs. In order to sinter your zirconia restorations, you will need a sintering furnace such as Dentsply Sirona’s SpeedFire or Ivoclar Vivadent’s Programat CS4. FYI- the SpeedFire is the fastest furnace available for sintering zirconia (10-15 mins), but it takes roughly 2.5x as long as any of the CS series furnaces to crystallize e.max (≈ 45 mins). So it might not be a bad idea to have a Programat CS/CS2/CS3 AND the SpeedFire OR the well-rounded CS4 if you plan to use both kinds of materials. The CS4 can speed crystallize e.max in ≈ 17 minutes, but it takes much longer than the SpeedFire (≈ 37 mins) to sinter zirconia after wet milling.
What is the trade-off between a wet mill vs. wet/dry mill?
It’s your typical trade-off scenario: time vs. money. When using a SpeedFire furnace, a wet/dry mill will save you ≈ 12 minutes in the sintering phase for zirconium oxide. When using a CS4 furnace, the time savings drops to ≈ 8 minutes.
The average sales price of a used Omnicam, Milling Unit, and Oven in 2018 (according to our sales records) was $54,000 with a range of $37,000-$75,000. Because most of these transactions occurred between parties in different states, there were no taxes.
Contrast that to the $152,365 bill for an Omnicam ($68,995), MC XL Premium Package ($71,000), Suction Unit ($1,375), and SpeedFire Furnace ($10,995). After local and state taxes this particular client in Utah paid $163,325.57! This cost does not yet take into account any finance charges.
So the real question becomes, does 8-12 minutes of extra production time per zirconium unit (and no difference with glass ceramics or hybrid materials) justify paying another $109,000 + finance charges?
I’ll leave that for you to decide, but as the notes on those 2016 wet/dry models reach maturity around 2021 or so they will enter the secondary market en masse, making this new vs. used CEREC debate pretty cut and dry (pun intended).