10 Questions: Atlantic's Scott Mappin on bringing gold restorations into the digital age

June 25, 2014

We talk with Scott Mappin, VP of Operations for Strategy Milling, in this exclusive Q&A.  

We talk with Scott Mappin, VP of Operations for Strategy Milling, in this exclusive Q&A.     01. What’s the background of Strategy Milling? How long has it been around, how does it work with Atlantic and who is in leadership?

Strategy Milling was the idea of Don Mappin, president of Atlantic Precious Metal Refining. Don surmised that if labs were still making gold crowns, that the obvious benefits resulting from milling and digitizing would benefit that restoration type as well as the industry, just as it has for so many other materials and processes.

The figurative groundwork was set into motion in the beginning of 2012. It employs Atlantic as a refiner and testing facility, and Strategy Milling as a separate division of Atlantic. As VP of Operations at Strategy, I am at the forefront of Atlantic’s Strategy Milling division.

02. What led Atlantic to form Strategy Milling?

In late 2011, I resigned from a lab position in Pennsylvania and found myself unemployed. I was grateful that Don offered me a position within Atlantic. I was in my 33rd year as a laboratory technician and unwittingly became an asset to Atlantic-eventually transforming Don’s idea into reality.

I had spent the previous five years focusing on different aspects of digital dental technology. From training more than 100 dental offices to use and integrate 3M ESPE’s LAVA C.O.S. intraoral scanner, to being a manager in large milling and outsourcing laboratories such as Issaquah Dental Lab & Albensi Dental Lab, this experience provided a solid foundation of knowledge regarding the creation of Strategy Milling.

03. What were you hearing from the industry that led you to know it was the right time?

I wasn’t hearing anything from the industry-no one was banging down the door for this service. We were simply looking at it through the eyes of a precious metal refiner that built its business on refining all sorts of dental scrap and understanding the state of the industry:

a. Gold crowns are still being made; albeit at a lower rate than in previous years.

b. We observed that gold was leaving dentistry through the scrap lots we were collecting and asked the question “Why?” We surmised there was still a desire and need among clinicians and lab owners alike for this product. We wanted to provide a service that is more cost effective in order to produce affordable gold alloy prosthetics.

c. Outsourcing has become a more accepted way of doing business in the lab industry.

04. How has the technology that enables Strategy Milling’s gold milling changed?

Milling machines and software have both lowered in price and risen in capability. Moreover, as the industry can confirm, milling has benefits that far surpass the lost wax and cast technique. 

05. What’s been the response from around the lab industry? 

While we anticipated quicker growth, the response has been extremely positive. The only negative is that there is confusion out there that other companies that are actually only sintering seem to have lab owners and technicians thinking they are milling, and these are two very different processes yielding different results. We have not found any other milling center or company in the country that is milling gold alloys.

06. What have you heard from labs and dentists who have used Strategy Milling?

We hear from dental labs that use Strategy that they are very satisfied ... the quality backs up the expectation. While we don’t sell to dentists directly, we do hear from them that they like to place gold restorations and love the positive attributes gold has such as malleability, track record, ease of placement and removal, and being non-antagonistic.

Strategy has, in a sense, stabilized the cost of manufacturing, and labs that scan and design are in a strong position to sell a flat fee gold restoration to their clients.

07. In your opinion, what does gold offer to labs that other alternatives don’t?

Specifically, milled gold offers laboratories a restoration at lower manufacturing cost; higher quality of internal fit; less finish time from the fit and external surface texture; and if designed properly, a great way to save money as the lab is only paying for the restoration weight and not the typically accompanying sprue system.

Other than that, it falls back to what are now becoming classic discussions between the available alternatives. Do YOU believe that gold is good? We do. We believe it to be more reliable and more user-friendly for all involved (lab, doctor and patient), and a better product than zirconia, lithium dislocate, composites or most high-fusing PFMs for posterior restorations.

08. What makes Strategy Milling different from other milling center options?

We only sell precious alloy milled products.

09. How will Strategy Milling change the industry? 

We believe Strategy will become the industry standard for producing gold prosthetics as labs learn about our products and services, which we plan on broadening in the near future. Moreover, we are bringing gold restorations into the digital age. 

10. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Labs now have a resource to aid them, not only in manufacturing gold products more efficiently, but providing what dentists would like to see-a flat rate gold restoration. For labs that do this and market to their dentist clients, they will really see their gold business grow! 

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Dental Lab Products. For more great articles about products in action, click here to subscribe to DLP's newsletter: http://bit.ly/18S8j4i