December 2015
Volume 6, Issue 11

Staying a Step Ahead With Dental Milling Technology

Efficient, effective mills bring new business opportunities

By Daniel Becker, CDT

My brothers and I grew up in this business. As the second generation to run Becker Dental Laboratory, Ryan, Ken, and I understand how important it is to make the right investments in advanced technology. Today our full-service laboratory has 20 employees, and like many laboratories these days, we are always looking for ways to grow our business.

A few years ago, increasing demand for milled zirconia led us to research upgrading our digital dental milling platform. In addition to faster production, we wanted an open-architecture, 5-axis system. We purchased a Roland DWX-50 5-axis CAD/CAM milling machine in 2012. With its rapid production speed and dramatically lower materials costs, we started to see a return on our investment within the first month.

In addition to enabling us to serve our existing customers better, the Roland mill helped us attract business from other laboratories. We posted photos of the results we were getting on social media study groups, and other laboratories started sending us their cases.

As the demand grew, we added DWX systems at the rate of approximately one every eight months. We now have four Roland DWX-50 mills, all managed from one computer. The DWX devices are easy to use, and they just keep on running. We would buy another Roland before buying any other mill.

Having four mills has allowed us to significantly increase our production. We have refined our workflow to maximize output, including running some cases overnight, while keeping our casework lined up so we are milling four crowns at all times.

We use our milling systems for zirconia, along with PMMA, wax, and pourable stone. While we typically run 40-80 units per day, we have produced as many as 100 units in a single day. Streamlining our production platform enables us to offer next-day shipping on crowns as long as scan files are received by 2 p.m., which is an important market differentiator for our laboratory.

We make the same offer to laboratories and to dentists with intraoral scanners. Our customers love the convenience, and even dentists who have their own mills appreciate the margin integrity and occlusion we get from our Roland mills. One trend we are seeing is increased demand for model-less crowns created from digital impressions. We can accept scans from a wide variety of intraoral scanner systems, and we are milling between five and 10 model-less crowns for dentists each day.

With our current milling capability, we are confident we can handle whatever comes our way. We are extremely satisfied that we chose the Roland mills, which enable us to keep up with growing demands.

Daniel Becker, CDT
Becker Dental Laboratory, Inc.
Herculaneum, Missouri

Key Takeaways

• In-house milling improves turnaround times, allowing smaller laboratories to compete with larger facilities
• 5-axis machining provides exceptional precision and smoother production
• Open architecture enables the use of the latest materials, CAD/CAM software, and scanners without having to rely on a single source
• Up to four dental milling units can be managed from a single computer, streamlining production workflow while increasing capacity
• In addition to zirconia, the latest dental mills can be used for PMMA, wax, composite resin, PEEK, and gypsum

About the Author

Roland DGA

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