10 Questions: Arthur Mateen, GM for Bien-Air USA

Published on: 
Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report-2011-09-01, Issue 9

01 Electric handpieces have ranked as one of the top 10 most desired purchases by dentists since 2007. What are your plans for addressing this need?

01 Electric handpieces have ranked as one of the top 10 most desired purchases by dentists since 2007. What are your plans for addressing this need?

Bien-Air was the first company to introduce electric handpieces in the U.S. in 1995. We are the world’s largest manufacturer of electric motors for dental use, with the first motor introduced in 1972. Virtually all dental units in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are equipped with electric motors. Bien-Air is the standard equipment on most of these units. In the U.S. our focus has been to upgrade the existing installed base of more than half-a-million units. With the introduction of the new MX line and now with the MX2 line, we believe that the U.S. market offers the greatest potential.

02 How have recent reports on poorly maintained electric handpieces warming up during use affected your business?

Bien-Air has a patented design that protects the push button against touching the bearing, thus providing an added protection against heating. This “cool touch” system is installed in all high- and lowspeed handpieces. Electric handpieces, when properly maintained, last longer than air driven handpieces and provide unrivalled flexibility. The same system can be used for highspeed, lowspeed, endo and prophy procedures. 

03 What has been the company’s overwhelming objective?

Simplify! Our whole organization, from product development to sales and support, is focused on finding ways to ease and simplify the working lives of our customers. Ten years ago we introduced our MX motor, which requires only two attachments for virtually all dental procedures including endo. Now with the introduction of the MX2 motor, we have addressed the two major objections – weight and size have been reduced by 30%.

04 Being a Swiss company, how do you compete with the lower-priced alternative?

Quality and reliability! All Bien-Air products are manufactured in the watch-making Jura region. We strive for precision and workmanship. Bien-Air never will be the lowest cost provider but will always focus on good quality at a fair price.


05 Has the economy impacted your business?

Being a family owned business, we were able to continue investing in research and development and introduce innovative products at a lower cost. For example our MX2 is priced lower than our MX system while offering better packaging and ergonomics. Later this year we are introducing an iPad controlled Oral Surgery and Implant System called iChiropro.

06 How has rapid growth in technology impacted your business?
We strive to embrace technology. Our iChiropro is one of the first systems in dentistry that uses an iPad/iPhone interface to control electric handpieces. With use of such devices, we offer endless possibilities of customization, training as well as after sales service. Our plan is to keep our customer updated by simply downloading an app.

07 What are the benefits of carbon fiber in a dental handpiece?
The new line of Bien-Air turbines combines avant-garde technology with exceptional ergonomics. Imagine an incredibly light instrument, refined, efficient and rugged at the same time. Inspired by the latest breakthroughs in the most demanding environments, such as aerospace, sailing and competitive sport, the Blackline carbon fiber handpiece is 10-times lighter than steel and offers improved resistance to wear.

08 What is the Bien-Air Story?
In 1959 David Mosimann, a precision mechanic by trade, started Bien-Air with the development of a bearing-free and lube-free, air bearing highspeed handpiece called the Gyro. Now the company has three factories and eight wholly owned subsidiaries located in Europe, Asia and North America, and sales agents in 63 countries worldwide. David Mosimann’s philosophy was not to strive to be the biggest but the best.

09 With 20 new dental schools planned in the U.S. by 2020, what opportunities does this present?
For the last few years we have been very proactive with dental schools and have upgraded thousands of dental units via donation of equipment and very aggressive pricing. Twenty-five percent of U.S. dental schools now teach using electric handpieces and the majority of these institutions use Bien-Air. We believe that dental students will lead the adoption of technologies in dentistry.

10 What are Bien-Air’s future plans?
In 2007 we acquired DCS, a Swiss company that pioneered CAD/CAM milling systems. Since then we have heavily invested in two new machines for milling 14 different materials made by Bien-Air including zirconia, porcelain and metals. We also have established a new division, Bien-Air Surgery, which develops and markets Facial Plastic and ENT equipment. We want to stay true to our core competencies of high-precision rotary cutting and milling instruments and systems.