Inside Dental Technology
Using Jensen milling technology to create high-quality restorations
There is that moment in the history of any successful company where the strategic business decision to innovate and grow or maintain the status quo must be made. Usually, the decision comes at a crucial time when an industry is showing signs of change, or when customers have made a subtle move away from traditional product and service offerings or both. It was a business decision and a time in dental technology history that Steve Daggett, CDT, manager of D&S Laboratories, remembers well. A traditional full service laboratory focusing on quality and customer service, D&S had flourished since opening its doors in the 1970s and over a 35-year stretch had expanded operations from its central Waunakee location to two other Wisconsin cities, Baraboo and Mondovi. By all business measurement standards, D&S had made the successful transition from a small business to a large middle-market operation.
The question the management team now faced was how to take the business to that next level. In an industry where hand labor still dominated, the obvious answer was to hire more people. However, each new employee could only produce a finite number of products in a day and management realized this business strategy would always put them in a position of increasing overhead for each incremental gain in production. Also standing in the way of adding to staff was a low unemployment rate. In the early to mid-2000s the unemployment rate in Madison, Wisconsin and its surrounds stood at 2%, which made finding quality employees difficult. The other major factor impacting the decision on the direction the company should take was the growing popularity of zirconia restorative material among D&S’s client base and the technology required to produce zirconia-based products. If they made the large capital investment in automated scanning and zirconia milling equipment, it would help the company achieve its goal of increasing production without adding more people, but could they realize a return on investment in the first three years?
The decisions made 10 years ago set D&S on course that created a paradigm shift in its production processes and allocation of staff. “We were one of the early pioneers with the 3M Lava™ brand,” explains Daggett, who has been with the company for 30 years. “We went that direction because we could get a high quality restoration, we could increase our production output with fewer staff, and we would be partners with a well-known company that had a reputation as an advertising machine to push forward a high-quality material brand and thus help us convert existing clients and bring us a wave of new clients.”
Today, the laboratory’s industrial, 5-axis Jensen Preciso M500 high-capacity milling machine is fed by four scanning stations and six design centers, all operated by knowledgeable dental technicians, a point Daggett stresses is a differentiator from many of the laboratory’s competitors and a selling and marketing advantage the company doesn’t hesitate to direct to clients. “Saying there is no differentiation between one milled crown to the next is not a valid argument when your scanners and CAD design software stations are being operated by qualified and experienced technicians versus competitors using entry level employees,” says Daggett. The mill operates 24/7 and can produce up to 210 units non-stop in a 76-hour straight running time. “We mill only 3M and Jensen materials in our mills from Lava Plus and Jensen HT high translucency materials for substructures and full-contour restorations to Jensen wax materials for casting and pressing and Lava Ultimate millable ceramic,” says Daggett. “When we began milling and 3D printing our wax copings for casting metal-based restorations, we immediately realized a cost reduction in our metal alloy costs. The ability to produce more crowns from a single ounce of alloy allowed us to be more competitive in the market.”
Daggett admits that D&S owns an open-architecture mill and has tried using off-brand milling materials in the Jensen mill, but found both strategies not only disruptive to the workflow setup and production efficiencies but also lacking in terms of D&S standards for quality and consistency in the final milled restorations. “Preciso automated technology provides accuracy and consistency to the products being produced,” says Daggett. “Quality from these machines is a given. In the digital world we have complete control over the quality these machines produce from the exact amount of die spacer needed on each individual case to the precision of the finished margins and detailed anatomy. If we have to discuss quality, then something in the process is broken.”
Recently, D&S purchased the smaller footprint four-axis Preciso M200 milling unit to handle short runs, take caseload overflow if necessary, and execute quick turn-around Lava Ultimate full-contour ceramic restorations for clients using intraoral scanning technology. “It’s a great strategy when your high-production milling units are on a big run and you need something quickly,” says Daggett.
Keeping a large 80-employee operation running smoothly and efficiently is Daggett’s responsibility and ensuring that the milling units are operating 24/7 is critical to keeping the business at top operating capacity. “We can’t afford for one of our high-production milling units to go offline for any extended time,” says Daggett. “That’s why, when considering your manufacturing partner, understanding the service and support they bring to the purchase is so important.” Recently, one of his units did go down. “We called the 800 help line and immediately we received a call back from a digital technician who accessed our computer and identified the problem.” The necessary parts to fix the unit were overnighted and a technician dispatched to repair the machine. “The customer service philosophy of Jensen is in close alignment with how we service our customers so we know that they have our back and are as interested in our success as a customer as we are in the success of our customers,” says Daggett.
Disclaimer: The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.
Preciso M200 and M500 Mills
The Preciso M200 and M500 Mills are validated as part of the Preciso Digital Dentistry Solution to work with innovative materials from 3M ESPE such as Lava™ Plus High Translucency Zirconia and Lava™ Ultimate Restorative, as well as Jensen Digital Consumables.
The Preciso M200 is a compact, 4-axis mill that includes a 60,000rpm high frequency Jager Spindle and a 6-tool automatic tool changer that reduces milling times while maintaining remarkable precision. The Preciso M500 is a 5-axis industrial mill specifically designed for dental labs and has the capacity to hold 21 frames with as many as 10 units per frame, and 31 tools. Materials and tools can be changed to fit a variety of indications while continuously producing restorations for up to 76 straight hours with incredible accuracy.
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