Inside Dental Technology
Committed to Digital Precision
Flawlessly transition your laboratory to a digital solution with Amann Girrbach
It was a high school summer job some five decades ago that impassioned a young Klaus Lampmann, CDT to pursue a career in dental technology and set him on a course of lifelong learning and exploration. Born in Lubeck, Germany, Lampmann and his family moved to the United States when his father was appointed a position with the German embassy in Washington, DC. Four years of apprenticeship in a dental laboratory after high school, a two-year stint in the Army as a dental technician, and an education at the University of Maryland prepared Lampmann for his next move—opening up his own full-service dental laboratory. Established in Miami, Florida in 1970, Lampmann’s Zahntechnique Inc. has prided itself on staying in the forefront of dental technology for the past 40 years by offering clients the latest developments in implant reconstruction and cosmetic dentistry. To cultivate the clientele he wanted to serve and immerse himself in a clinical educational environment, Lampmann threw himself into clinical and technical courses at L.D. Pankey and Dawson institutes, joined local study clubs and national dental societies as well as studied under the tutelage of leading technicians and dentists. He attended one of the first Branemark technician training courses in 1985. His curiosity and interest in anything technology-related thrust him into the forefront of automated manufacture in the late 1990s, adopting one of the first Procera scanning and outsourcing business models for all-ceramic single crowns. It was this early exposure to CAD/CAM technology that kept Lampmann engaged and experimenting with new technology-related solutions over the next 20 years as they were brought to the market. Over that same two decades new all-ceramic restorative materials and options were introduced to the market and pricing for the machinery to mill them slowly came down.
“In the beginning the only business solutions available involved outsourcing your all-ceramic products,” said Lampmann. “I think once you have spent a number of years participating in that business model and you are spending $4,000 to $5,000 a month outsourcing product, there is a fine financial line, regardless of business size, to bring that production and that business in-house because it’s economically feasible, it’s faster, it’s more accurate, and you have total control over the production process.”
Early on the first CAD/CAM systems offered for in-house production were all closed systems, and Lampmann had experienced first-hand how limiting that business model can be with the variety of scanners he had been using for outsourcing production. What he wanted and needed was a truly open solution, a single system that offered him the flexibility required to service an astute and demanding client base as they adopted the use of the new materials and products coming onto the market. He also valued a system manufacturer that would support his business with exceptional customer service and possess the technical expertise to help their laboratory customers meet everyday challenges.
Alexander Wunsche, production manager for Zahntechnique, and a German born and educated technician, was well acquainted with the Amann Girrbach line of precision laboratory products sold in his native country. When the company launched its open-architecture Ceramill CAD scan and CAM milling system in the United States, neither Lampmann nor Wunsche hesitated. “What this scanner affords is the flexibility to design products to our exacting standards and either produce them in-house or, if needed, send the design to any milling center that accepts open STL files,” said Wunsche. “We are not confined in our CAD designs by the software nor limited to the production center we want to use or the products we need for our clients.” The robust Ceramill Mind software, which is based on Exocad design software, allows more design freedom than other CAD programs and includes the virtual Artex® articulator with all the settings required for creating a truly functional and complex case complete with fully customizable tooth libraries. Soon the software will offer the ability to design functional surgical stents and guides.
With the ability to now CAD design and mill 95% of the assemblies needed for the cases coming into the laboratory from temporaries and wax patterns to copings, frameworks, and implant bars, a considerable increase in the need for CAD designers was required. To make that transition, Lampmann and Wunsche trained their waxers on the CAD design software and then cross-trained the remaining employees from other departments to ensure a smooth production flow.
To enhance the digital workflow in the laboratory, Zahntechnique became an iTero™-partner laboratory. The laboratory began actively promoting the digital impression scanners to their client base through hands-on clinics they conducted with iTero representatives because the files are easily accepted and designed in the Ceramill Mind software. “Today half of our clients are using the iTero system to send us impressions,” said Lampmann. “Not only are the scans much more accurate than conventional impressions, but the intraoral digital scan process also contributes to the production workflow and efficiencies here in our laboratory.” When the impression scan arrives, immediately the scan is sent to iTero’s production center for model milling, and work in-house begins on the CAD design of the final restoration using Ceramill Mind design software. Most often the final restoration is complete by the time the model arrives for sending to the client. If the client has a question during the scanning process or the laboratory has a concern during the CAD design phase, Lampmann and his team use Skype to communicate in real time with their clients to show them their design concerns. Lampmann is seriously considering the purchase of a 3D model printer to close another loop in the need to outsource a production process that can be completed in-house and to upgrade from the Ceramill Map300 to the new Map400 CAD scanner which offers significantly faster scan times.
As operators of a high-end, esthetic business, Lampmann and Wunsche appreciate the consistency from case-to-case that CAD/CAM processes afford them and the ability to improve case turn around time to better serve their clients. If they had only one wish to improve upon the digital processes they have set in place, it would be the availability of knowledgeable technicians steeped in computer CAD technology. That is why they now offer a modular series of hands-on CAD courses for technicians who want to learn computerized restorative design. “This is one of the last but most important missing pieces to the digital puzzle right now, especially here in the US.” In the meantime, they both are alert to take advantage of the next new material or new tool that they can use to ensure the function, fit, and esthetics of the products they produce.
The new Ceramill Map400 is the next generation of advanced, fully automatic, high-performance digital scanners from Amann Girrbach. Highly sensitive 3D sensors provide exceptionally precise (<20 µm), high-resolution data; a new wide angle measuring field is able to handle the largest restorations while minimizing the number of scan images required; and just two axes reduce the scan times of full arches and articulated casts, allowing the laboratory to quickly and precisely scan articulated casts, bite registrations, diagnostic models, soft tissue models, and wax-ups plus bridges up to 14 units. Plus the Map400’s open platform with the Mind software is compatible with other existing hardware and software for maximum flexibility.
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