Inside Dental Technology
An Interview with Rob Nazzal
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): How do you see outsourcing as a business strategy evolving in the future?
Rob Nazzal (RN): The dental industry is going through rapid change. Economic forces require greater efficiency, and digital manufacturing is becoming increasingly important. For some materials, such as zirconia, CAD/CAM is a requirement. Most of the country’s 10,000 laboratories are not yet prepared to acquire and implement some of the needed systems. Those considering taking CAD/CAM in-house need to understand what it requires beyond purchasing the equipment—ie, a staff that understands digital and has the ability to fill those machines and keep them going. For that reason, outsourcing is a very important part of being able to keep up with the materials that are being demanded in the market today and also meet some of the economic pressures.
Looking ahead, we feel that there will continue to be a need for laboratories to outsource at least some portion of their products. Smaller laboratories or those that are otherwise not ready to make the digital leap or financial commitment will likely continue to outsource most of their work, while those that are growing and feeling increasingly confident with the technology will be bringing in more and more equipment and will outsource only restorations for which it doesn’t make sense to buy equipment.
IDT: What key factors should laboratory owners look for when choosing an outsource partner and how does CAP meet these critical criteria?
RN: The first consideration should be whether a potential outsource partner has the products you need. In addition, it is essential that it be able to consistently deliver on time and at a high quality level. You also need to be comfortable with the company’s level of communication and understanding of the laboratory business.
At CAP, we see ourselves as partners who understand what laboratories need, and we are positioned to help them meet those needs as they continue to grow. We’re not just taking a file and putting it into a machine; we’re delivering a product for a patient’s mouth that our lab partners can be proud to deliver to their doctors. Our proprietary anatomical library enables us to select the ultimate anatomical design and find the most esthetic materials. We have developed specific milling strategies to optimize the quality of the output and have perfected a multi-shading technique on our zirconia that gives the most esthetic appearance to the crown. In addition, we have developed processes to facilitate communication between our experienced technicians and lab customers to anticipate problems and make sure that our clients and their customers get what they need.
IDT: How does the outsource business model help laboratories grow their businesses and remain profitable in a difficult economic environment?
RN: We are not only a milling center servicing labs who don’t have CAD/CAM equipment, but we also sell CAD/CAM solutions so that when clients are ready to bring equipment in-house, we can help them. What this means to our clients is that they can stay lean as long as they need to, then add technology and staff when it’s feasible and profitable for them.
IDT: Why do you believe it is important for a provider to meld the milling services and equipment solution aspects of the outsource model?
RN: We see the digital transition for dental laboratories as a process that involves a series of steps, and, because we have a part to play in each of them—providing milling services, design equipment purchase, and CAD/CAM equipment purchase and support—we have no motive to influence their choices. Customers who want to access the latest digital technology without having to invest in capital equipment or climb the learning curve of a new technology can have CAP scan, design, and fabricate various unfinished products for their lab. One step up, customers can scan and design restorations for themselves by buying CAD equipment from CAP, with no obligation to have CAP fabricate the designs. Finally, CAP sells complete CAD/CAM systems for in-house fabrication of certain products, for which it can provide educational and technical support, including setup, and staff training.
IDT: What is your vision as to how the industry will look in the next 5 years?
RN: Given how quickly the industry has moved in the last 5 years, it would make sense to expect more digital fabrications and with it a greater movement among laboratories to bring in-house a greater portion of their digital fabrication. But I also think outsourcing will be around for a long time to manage the newest materials and restorations that continue to emerge.
The reality is that technology is here to stay and will continue to grow. In keeping with its mission to help laboratories navigate successfully through this digital transition, CAP is poised to help its customers thrive by embracing the changes that are occurring.
Rob Nazzal is the CEO of Custom Automated Prosthetics (CAP) in Stoneham, Massachusetts.