I recently went through a digital ROI exercise with a small, 1-person dental lab and was surprised to see how few units you need to be outsourcing each month to pay for a CAM system. I have always told small labs that were just looking into digital that it's best to start with a scanner, outsource your milling, build up your business and then bring the milling in-house. I believe that this is a good conservative approach, but what I found out through this ROI exercise is that dental labs, that already had a scanner, could invest in a milling system sooner than planned.
Lab A, as I will refer to them, had a scanner and recently came to me requesting a pricing summary on adding a CAM system. The below infographic depicts Lab A's ROI based on a simple ROI exercise and a few standard questions.
By completing this basic ROI exercise for Lab A, I was able to see what the minimum number of outsourced units a month is that would still give Lab A a positive return on our investment. Based on the numbers above, if Lab A were doing just 24 crowns a month they would still be on the positive side by $11. Now, I understand no one is going to make the switch for $11, but hopefully your business will grow and keep in mind Lab A is just adding a CAM system, so his monthly equipment payment is smaller than if you were to buy a complete CAD/CAM system.
Remember, there are factors that can affect this ROI including credit qualification, and labor costs, but the moral of the story is for smaller dental labs you may not need to be doing as high volumes as you would think to be able to become a modern dental lab.