An investment in peace of mind
Master Dental Technician, Manuel Gassner, is passionate about his profession. He manages the dental laboratory Zahnmanufaktur in the Austrian Ötztal Station, together with Master Dental Technician Gerald Föger, and is fascinated by the possibilities available when analogue and digital working techniques (craftsmanship) are combined. The technical equipment in the laboratory Zahnmanufaktur is state-of-the-art – it was one of the first laboratories in Austria to work with the PrograMill PM7 (Ivoclar Vivadent). In this interview, Master DT Manuel Gassner talks about his experiences with dental technical digitization in general and in particular with this machine.
Mr Gassner, please introduce yourself and your laboratory!
Manuel Gassner: The laboratory Zahnmanufaktur was founded in 2015 in Tyrol (Austria) by Gerald Föger and myself. We currently employ seven people and are looking to expand further. The dental technician’s job has changed enormously in recent years. It’s not enough to have the required organizational talents, personal responsibility and reliability as well as empathy, precision and a good feel for shapes and colours. Today, a dental technician should also be able to handle digital media well and enjoy doing so.
Do all your employees support the increasing digitization?
Manuel Gassner: We like to apply our team members as much as possible according to preferences and skills. If someone enjoys computer-aided processes and is good at digital planning and handling the machine, then that’s where we allow them to specialize. On the other hand, we also have employees who prefer conventional working techniques and who love working with press ceramics, for example. We feel it is very important to maintain and further expand our conventional expertise as well as the digital techniques. And that's exactly what our customers value: the fact that we master both worlds.
Which digital workflow does the Zahnmanufaktur use?
Manuel Gassner: Our digital workflow usually starts with scanning the models; this is well proven and highly precise. The lab scanner and planning software are from 3Shape. The CAM software, which is used for milling and includes the algorithms for nesting, is from Ivoclar Vivadent. We don’t have to worry about milling strategies, as Ivoclar Vivadent have coordinated the strategies according to their materials. This information is stored directly in the system and is consistently updated. Updates are provided by the manufacturer, so we are always up to date. The projects are then simply sent from the CAM software to the PrograMill PM7 and then the machine is ready to go.
The digitization of laboratory processes is associated with high investment costs ...
Manuel Gassner: If you want to stay on the ball for patients, you have to invest constantly; of course, this comes at a price. With a machine like the PrograMill PM7, we are not only able to achieve a very high quality, we are also very flexible. The machine brings a sense of calm to the company, which significantly increases the employee’s happiness – and that is priceless.
However, you don’t only have the machine, you also have a lot of accessories. Is it all necessary?
Manuel Gassner: In my opinion, the PM7 is a system, and not just a milling machine. Which is why we purchased the complete system, because all the individual parts are coordinated perfectly with each other. The base cabinet is not just a steel cabinet, it is designed to accommodate the suction unit, material storage and the filter systems. The rounded milling chamber and the light vacuum during the milling procedure allow the dust to be extracted very effectively. The system is always clean. Our health is important, who wants to inhale zirconium dust all day long? That is certainly the wrong place to economize.
There are so many milling machines on the market, why did you choose the PrograMill PM7 from Ivoclar Vivadent?
Manuel Gassner: Two facts were particularly important to us: The quality of the milling products and the quality of the service offered. In order for us to have an overview of the performance of different machines, we assigned test work to appropriate service providers and compared the results with each other. In the end, we purchased the PM7 through a depot – in this case Henry Schein. There is a hotline available for any technical questions which may arise. So far, this has always been easy to access and has provided us with a direct response in a short time. For minor problems, we communicate via the TeamViewer, which allows access to our system from a distance. If there are any major problems, someone will come to our laboratory. Due to the fact that our machine has to operate day and night, it was important to us to choose a manufacturer with a support system in Austria.
So, you also had problems?
Manuel Gassner: Very few – a lot had to do with our inexperience at the beginning. And of course, there have been a few software updates for the PM7, which have expanded the range of indications and improved processes. That’s what Ivoclar Vivadent stands for. Now, everything is running smoothly. And another tip, because there are always reports of problems with zirconium oxide: Not all zirconium oxide is the same. That is why we choose to use a material directly from the manufacturer. If you process and sinter zirconium oxide correctly – with a precisely calibrated sinter furnace – very important – then the procedure is safe and reliable.
For the dentist, it probably doesn't matter which machine you work with ...
Manuel Gassner: On the contrary, the purchase of this machine generated a positive response from our existing customers and we have even gained two new customers as a result: "Ah, you have one of the latest milling machines!" For them, it is important that the complete workflow is carried out in our laboratory – all from a single source. And, of course, they also know that an in-house milling machine has shorter turnaround times – in case of urgency.
How important is it for dental laboratories to deal with CAD/CAM?
Manuel Gassner: Let’s put it this way, CAD/CAM is not the future, it’s the present.
Those are good closing words! Thank you very much for the interesting conversation, Mr Gassner!