Bright Future Ahead for 3M ESPE Curing Lights
Dr. Joe Oxman, a 3M corporate scientist with the company’s Dental Products Division who specializes in organic photochemistry, has been a part of 3M ESPE’s research team for more than 28 years. Oxman, whose primary focus is on the chemical properties of light-activated materials, directs his research toward developing products and techniques that are relevant to clinicians while ensuring that 3M ESPE’s curing light technology is proficient at curing thoroughly and deeply. “We focus our research efforts on what most benefits clinicians, and then we attempt to lay out what they need to do to succeed clinically with light curing,” Oxman explains.
3M ESPE is heavily invested in not only understanding the needs of clinicians but also in making sure its products meet those needs, according to Oxman. “When we develop new products, we try to spend a significant amount of time interacting with customers, observing what they do, and asking probing questions. Ultimately, we want to provide curing lights that are not only high in quality, but that also provide features that are important from a clinical and performance standpoint,” he expounds.
3M ESPE’s Elipar™ S10 LED Curing Light is a prime example of such a product. An LED light that comes equipped with 3-mm, 8-mm, and 10-mm light guides, the Elipar S10 offers up to three times more light intensity than comparable devices, according to the company. Oxman says the high intensity of the unit’s LED light may provide deeper, more thorough curing than many other lights on the market. “Many clinicians are concerned with reducing cure time; unfortunately, there are practical limitations in this regard independent of the light intensity. One of the most important aspects of photocuring is making sure the clinician can achieve adequate depth of cure all the way to the bottom of the restoration,” says Oxman. Providing a light intensity of up to 1,600 mW/cm2, the Elipar S10’s 8-mm light guide gives clinicians increased optical power, which can be extremely effective in the dark, tight environment of the mouth.
Oxman not only speaks highly of the Elipar S10’s curing capabilities, but also of its overall design. Elipar’s one-piece, stainless-steel casing makes it durable and virtually unbreakable, and the simple two-button operation provides one cure mode for all indications and a tack cure mode. In addition, the light has a coating that offers long-term protection against fingerprints and stains. “The stainless steel is really nice, not just from a durability standpoint, but also because it is easy to clean and gives the user good ergonomics and esthetics,” says Oxman.
While he considers the Elipar S10 a light that is easy for clinicians to operate, Oxman says 3M ESPE offers its customers a high level of instruction. “We are very customer focused,” he explains. “We have customer care representatives always ready, and our sales team frequently offers ‘lunch and learns,’ evening training sessions, and other instruction to anyone who would like it.” He adds that people on the research and development end of the company, like himself, present lectures, write articles, and offer instruction and information via continuing education classes. “We visit universities and collaborate with academic communities and global experts to ensure that not only are our customers able to readily use our products, but that, additionally, they understand the science behind them,” Oxman elaborates.
Oxman believes that the future of curing lights is, of course, bright, and that it lies in what he refers to as “smart curing.” “Five or 10 years from now, LED curing lights will almost certainly be smaller and more energy-efficient, but we should consider that curing lights might also become multifunctional,” he predicts. He describes the possibility of curing lights being capable of sensing depth of cure, or lights that could be calibrated to adjust their intensity to meet the needs of the material at hand.
“3M ESPE’s job is to develop methods, materials, and hardware that ultimately simplify procedures and save time without sacrificing other properties. Our goal is to identify creative solutions to address our customers’ articulated and unarticulated needs,” he says.
3M ESPE Dental Products
3M Center, 275
St. Paul, MN 55144-1000