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September 21, 2023

After releasing our exocad online training course with Marjorie Andrade, we started to get bombarded with questions about this CAD software for dental professionals. 

So, we thought we’d put together a handy resource for anyone looking to learn more about exocad. 

If you’re looking for online exocad training, we have one of the most comprehensive courses available. It ranges from fundamental lessons to advanced topics. It’s a structured pathway that will take you from beginner to master. We have had a ton of great feedback so far. 

Click below to check it out. 

Designed in exocad and fabricated in-house.

Now, onto everything you need to know about the exocad software!

What is exocad?

Exocad (stylized as exocad) is a globally recognized software company specializing in providing advanced CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software solutions specifically tailored to the dental industry. 

At its core, exocad's software solutions are designed to automate somewhat and simplify the dental restoration process. Their flagship product, DentalCAD, offers a robust set of tools for designing a wide range of dental prosthetics, including crowns, bridges, dentures, and orthodontic devices. 

The platform is known for its flexibility, with an open architecture that allows integration with various dental scanners, milling machines, and 3D printers. This open system ensures that dental professionals can choose the best hardware for their specific needs while leveraging the powerful design capabilities of exocad's software.

Moreover, exocad releases new updates and extensions often, ensuring dental professionals worldwide have the latest tools to provide patients with optimal care.

History of exocad

Exocad founders, Tillmann Steinbrecher and Mail Gerth, first met in 2006 while working on a research project about CAD/CAM technology in dentistry at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD. The pair quickly realized that they were more interested in software development than writing academic papers, and in 2008, the first iteration of DentalCAD was born. The company was then officially founded in 2010 as a spin off of the Fraunhofer Institute.

Exocad grew organically as the pair travelled the world, presenting their software to companies and creating sales partnerships that are still going strong today. The company has offices in South Korea, Germany, and America.

Over the years, exocad has expanded its portfolio. In 2017, exocad rolled out exoplan, a software solution for guided surgery and surgical guide design. They then followed up with ChairsideCAD in 2018 and Smile Creator in 2019.

Today, exocad is a global company, boasting a sprawling headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, and an impressive 55,000 licenses sold in over 150 countries.

In 2020, exocad was acquired by Align Technology for $419 million.

How much does exocad cost?

Giving a straightforward answer on how much exocad costs is a little tricky - as it depends heavily on what license model you choose, where you're located, how much your reseller charges, and whether you buy additional modules.

Instead of selling their software directly to you, exocad sells their software to certified resellers who provide support and can sell licenses on their own or bundle up the software with their products. For example, if you buy a mill or 3D printer, you might get some design software included in the purchase. 

Click here to view a complete list of exocad resellers, where you can sort by country and what software you’re after.

While it depends on the reseller you purchase, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $6,500 USD for the base-level DentalCAD program.

Exocad License Models Explained 

It’s worth noting that exocad offers two licensing models for their products - a Flex License and a Perpetual License. 

The Flex License is a subscription-style model. You’ll get an initial lower cost, and you can activate and deactivate modules as you need. Plus, you get regular upgrades included in the price. This license is a good option for anyone who might be unsure if they’ll actually use the software or don’t want to pay the large initial upfront fee before using it. Or those who want to make sure they are getting all the latest updates. It’s a safe option to consider. 

If you have a flex license and end up damaging or losing your dongle, exocad will replace the dongle for you free of charge.

The Perpetual License is a permanent license that you own forever. Unfortunately, you don’t get access to future exocad updates unless you buy an optional upgrade contract - which you can cancel anytime. You can then purchase additional modules based on what you want to use exocad for. The perpetual license has a larger up-front cost, but you don’t have to pay on an ongoing basis. If you plan on using exocad for an extended period of time and know exactly what you want to use it for, this would be an excellent option to consider.

In our comprehensive Mastering exocad course, Marjorie Andrade gives a detailed breakdown of the price difference between the  Perpetual License and the Flex License. The exact pricing and currency will differ for everyone, but it gives you an idea of what you can expect to pay.

Exocad Pricing Table, perpetual license vs flex license

Where to download exocad?

As mentioned previously, exocad doesn’t actually sell their software directly to you, and you have to go through a certified reseller who will either sell you the software as part of a product bundle or by itself.

You can view a full list of exocad resellers here, where you can sort by country and what software you’re after.

It’s worth noting that while DentalCAD is available worldwide, ChairsideCAD and exoplan are certified as medical devices and are only available in selected countries. So, if you’re looking for that software, you’ll have to contact your local reseller. 

How do you install exocad?

To download exocad DentalCAD, you’ll have to purchase the software. You’ll then receive a dongle (USB) that you plug into your computer and use to download the software.

The dongle will include comprehensive instructions on how to install your software. If you’re struggling with installation, contact your reseller, as they’ll be able to provide detailed instructions on installing exocad. 

The dongle is essentially a license checker. Without a certified dongle, you cannot use the software.

Get exocad Training

From fundamental lessons all the way to advanced topics. Get the training you need through iDD's online platform.

Why choose exocad?

The DentalCAD software is incredibly powerful. With it, you can completely transform your dentistry workflows to digital design and manufacturing and offer incredible treatment to your patients.

But why choose exocad over other dental CAD software?

  • Flexibility - exocad software is completely open and customizable. Thanks to this open format, you can integrate it with a variety of equipment, like intraoral scanners, facial scanners, 3D printers and milling machines. It is one of the most capable software in terms of integrations.
  • Great performance - exocad DentalCAD is fantastic software. It’s really powerful and gives you much control over the entire workflow. Its versatility allows for designing all types of restorations, including inlays, onlays, veneers, and more. The fact that it’s customizable to each user is a huge plus, as it means you can create designs however you like and find solutions that are specific to your needs.
  • Versatile - there is a reason why dentists and technicians around the world swear by this software. Exocad is one of the most powerful and versatile CAD software on the market. The software can be used to design almost everything in dentistry. 
  • Continuous updates - The exocad team continuously releases updates to help keep you at the forefront of CAD/CAM design. For example, the new Rijeka 3.1 update had 85 enhanced features and 45 new ones. The constant updating means it is one of the most up-to-date CAD software on the market.
  • Strong community of users - exocad has a strong global community of users, who are active on social media groups and forums. If you run into any issues, someone else will likely have also. So, you can easily search these forums for tips and to get advice from fellow users.

Exocad does have competition, however. Notably, 3Shape is the other market leader in CAD software with 3Shape Dental System. Many people like exocad due to its ‘expert mode’, which allows you to seamlessly jump in and out of all the steps involved in the CAD process instead of being restricted to only following a wizard workflow of fixed steps. Take note, however, that each software has its strengths and weaknesses.

We use exocad DentalCAD extensively in our lab for most indications except dentures and implant surgical guide design, which are designed using 3Shape Dental System and 3Shape Implant Studio. 

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When using exocad software, it's common to encounter a few bumps along the way. Here are some really simple issues that seem to recur for users. If you’ve got more specific problems with the software, reach out to your reseller or check out our online training course.

troubleshooting exocad

Error Messages during Startup

If you see error messages pop up when starting exocad, don't panic. Often, these are related to licensing issues or an outdated software version. Ensure you have the newest version and confirm your license is still valid.

Difficulty Importing STL Files

Facing trouble importing STL files? It might be due to file corruption or compatibility problems. Try opening the file in another program first; if it works there but not in exocad, reach out for help from their support team.

Problems Designing Crowns and Bridges

Sometimes, designing crowns and bridges can get tricky on this platform because of its detailed features. When facing such difficulties, it’s really helpful to have some structured training that you can refer to that goes over the design process comprehensively. Like anything, there is a learning curve and it is important to train on the best practices.

designing crowns and bridges in exocad DentalCAD

Need some help with exocad?

Learning exocad can be one of the best things you’ll do in your dental career. However, it can be extremely overwhelming when you first start out. It's easy to feel lost when every click brings up a new tool or feature you're not familiar with.

Without proper guidance, even designing a simple crown can become a frustrating experience, not to mention leveraging advanced features like crown lengthening and implant planning.

That’s why we teamed up with Marjorie Andrade, our own technician who works at iDD lab to create one of the most comprehensive exocad training courses available. 

You can flick through the lessons and come back to anything you struggle with. It’s like having someone there with you for when things get difficult. 

The course Modules range from fundamental topics like setting up the software and designing basic crowns…

All the way to advanced material like full-mouth rehabilitation and implant planning.

Check the course out below.

Get exocad Training

From fundamental lessons all the way to advanced topics. Get the training you need through iDD's online platform.

About the author 

Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny

Dr Ahmad is a global leader in digital dentistry and intraoral scanners, carrying out lectures as a KOL for many companies and industry. He is one of the few in the world who owns and has tested all mainstream scanners and CAD/CAM systems in his clinic. Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny is a full-time private dentist in New Zealand and the Director of The Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD), a world-leading digital dentistry education provider. iDD offers live courses, masterclasses, and an online training platform, with a mission to ensure dentists globally have easy and affordable access to the best digital dentistry training possible.

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