Inside Dental Technology
International manufacturing show previews new technologies for the dental laboratory of the near future.
From tooling and workholding systems to CAD/CAM technology, the latest innovations from various industries made their debut at this year’s biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show. More than 82,000 professionals from around the globe flocked to McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois for a glimpse of new advances in manufacturing equipment.
Housing nearly 1,200 booths, the exhibit hall offered attendees a glimpse of the up-and-coming technologies they will need to stay competitive in their respective fields. For laboratory owners willing to venture beyond their typical tradeshow circuit, companies established in and new to dental technology showcased their latest offerings—from robotics to CAD/CAM milling, 3-D printing, and laser sintering.
Here are just a few highlights from the showroom floor:
With the open-architecture EOSINT M270 laser-sintering system (EOS GmbH, www.eos.info), laboratories can produce up to 450 metal copings and frameworks a day without waxing, investing, or casting. Best of all, it requires no human intervention during the production phase. The unit builds up parts layer by layer using direct metal laser-sintering technology to produce complex geometries directly from 3-D CAD data. Copings and frameworks are processed using a special CobaltChrome SP2 alloy from EOS that is 100% biocompatible and CE certified for use in the dental industry. Technicians can expect achievable accuracy of +/-20 µm from this industrial unit.
Because of its compatibility with 3Shape 3-D scanners (www.3shape.com), laboratory technicians can scan impressions, design substructures, and transmit design data to the laser-sintering unit. For cases requiring a model, EOS developed the Formiga P 100 polymer laser-sintering unit, which processes models that do not need manual finishing. The EOSINT M270 can also be used to produce TiXos titanium-sintered implants (Leader Italia Srl, www.leaderitalia.it), which offer a surface design that replicates bone structure.
Although the DATRON D5 (DATRON Dynamics, Inc, www.datron.com) did not officially launch until October 1, consumers in North America got their first look at the dental milling machine at the show. This high-performance unit is the first of its kind to enable complete control operation with an Apple iPad™, which allows laboratory technicians to monitor machine operations and job status from another location. The small-footprint milling unit produces inlays/onlays, crowns, bridges, telescopes, implant bars, abutments, and models. It can create them using various materials, including titanium, zirconia, nano composites, PMMA/wax, gypsum, and ceramics. A 13-station tool changer with tool-length and tool-break sensor ensures that the D5 is operating at peak performance, with excellent milling efficiency and accuracy. Winner of the 2010 RedDot Award for best machine design, this open-architecture five-axis milling unit is compatible with all leading CAD/CAM software packages and is designed to integrate with future software developments.
For high-production facilities, the fully-automated Mikron HSM 400U ProdMed Dental (AgieCharmilles, www.gfac.com) features five-axis machining for creating numerous restorative options, including crowns, bridges, implant abutments, and bars in a wide range of materials. This high-speed machining unit incorporates multiple Smart-Machine Modules (SMMs). The Advanced Processing System can reliably detect and display variations in spindle vibrations during the milling process while the integrated Intelligent Thermal Control SMM determines how heat is affecting the machine components and eliminates the impact of thermal expansion and contraction by automatically compensating to maintain milling accuracy. A Remote Notification System SMM allows operators to select production events such as a power outage or tool breakage that will trigger the machine to automatically send a notification to a cell phone or e-mail account during unmanned operation.
DMG America (www.dmgamerica.com) showcased its Ultrasonic 10 milling machine in the exhibit hall, milling full-contour crowns out of glass ceramic as well as titanium substructures. Its ultrasonic technology uses a spindle that vibrates a diamond tool at a rate of 20,000 times per second. Barely touching the material that is being cut, the diamond shaves tiny particles from the workpiece to produce inlays/onlays, full-contour crowns, copings, frameworks, implant abutments and bars, and models. It can create these dental prostheses from various materials, including wax/acrylic, zirconia, PMMA, nano composite, chrome cobalt, and titanium. With a highly compact design made to accommodate small and medium-sized laboratories, the Ultrasonic 10 milling unit comes with an integrated 16-pocket tool changer, laser tool measuring system, and water-cooled, high-frequency spindle. It also features five-axis simultaneous machining and can be upgraded with a linear magazine holding up to 10 milling blanks.
More than 82,000 professionals from around the globe flocked to IMTS in Chicago.