3Shape or exocad - we put the two leading CAD / CAM systems in the dental industry into the ring for you

In our last article we opened the CADdent® ring and let two digital manufacturing processes speak for themselves with LaserMelting vs. Milling. In the second round, the two leading CAD / CAM systems in the dental industry will compete for you and measure themselves against various criteria.  3Shape or exocad, who will take home the win?

3Shape or exocad – CADdent® experts advise you


If you trawl through the various dental forums and groups, it is often said that it is a matter of taste who prefers which system. And our experts see it that way too. While 3Shape is intuitive to use and guides the user very closely, exocad leaves more creative freedom and the opportunity to try things out for yourself. 

The question of which system you learned with, what you are used to (that is, what you are prepared for ) often plays a role. 

When it comes to handling, the question of whether to use 3Shape or exocad is a matter of taste and a question of belief, similar to that of whether Apple or Android. 


Both 3Shape and exocad offer stl data output. This means that with both systems you are free to choose your partners and manufacturing service providers. Even if the compatibility between 3Shape's own products is higher, third-party products can be used. Only the use of the scanner is predefined with the 3Shape software, while you only get the software from exocad itself and the scanner depends on your sales partner.

Software moduls

When it comes to software modules, 3Shape offers significantly less than exocad. At least that’s the feeling when you work your way through the software manufacturers’ websites. If you go a little deeper in the research process, it quickly becomes clear: both systems offer the same content, only the structure of the modules is different. 3Shape combines topic-specific modules that exist individually at exocad.


3Shape offers two different billing models: LabCare Package and Basic Package. In addition to free support and training, the larger LabCare package also includes regular software upgrades. With the Basic package, labs have to pay for support, and the paid version of the software remains permanent.

Billing at exocad is similar. The Flex license roughly corresponds to the 3Shape LabCare package. Users have access to regular updates here. However, there is also the option of booking a permanent license that does not require the installation of updates – at least not as long as the exocad software and the operating system are compatible. In the event that the design software and operating system no longer work together, exocad offers an upgrade contract that can be canceled at any time at no additional cost. In principle, it is also possible to buy the permanent license without the upgrade contract. Should this become necessary at a later point in time, there is the option of catching up on missed updates with a refresh program, which is priced individually.

Service and support

With both 3Shape and exocad, the support is provided by the reseller from whom you purchase the scanner and software. The quality of the service does not depend on the system, but on the sales partner of your choice. If you are no longer satisfied with this over time, there is the possibility to change it, although rather time-consuming.

Training and courses

When it comes to training and courses, 3Shape is ahead of the game, at least as far as the obvious is concerned, because 3Shape offers many case studies, blog posts and on-demand webinars on its platform, the "Online Learning Hub". In addition to this content, which users can view independently, 3Shape offers virtual classes in small groups of up to 6 people and individual training. 

exocad itself does not offer training courses. As with the purchase of software and devices, this option is available through sales partners who are (partially) certified for exocad training. 


All in all, our experts are of the opinion that both systems have their pros and cons, that it is a matter of taste and belief as to which system is better. So this time, no one will step out of the ring as a clear winner.

It is important that you know the requirements in your laboratory and select the system that suits your requirements. 

We at CADdent® work with both systems in order to be able to optimally exploit the respective advantages. If you have any further questions about the systems, you are welcome to contact us at any time, our experts are always available as sparring partners!