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Ryan Hamm is the former Editorial Director for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.
Want your lab to move forward and reach new heights of success? ETI Digital Technology wants to help.
Through their product solutions, support and education, ETI has positioned themselves as a leader in the lab industry. John Just is the Director of Technical Support and Training at ETI Digital Technology, and a dental technician with more than 40 years of experience at the bench. With so many labs eager to enter into a digital workflow, we recently talked to him about how ETI Digital Technology can help, what digital can do for labs and how a CAD/CAM system can change everything.
What kind of experience do you bring to ETI Digital Technology?
I have been a dental technician for more than 40 years, having owned my laboratory for 27 of those years. I have lectured internationally, including at universities, with regards to Digital Dentistry and using CAD/CAM in the dental laboratory. I have also led classes all over the world. My experience gives me the added advantage of being an expert in the field of digital dentistry, along with my extensive background in implantology. This gives our ETI customers and laboratory partners a peace of mind and confidence that what we sell, we stand behind.
What kind of workflow do you recommend to labs? How can they work with ETI Digital Technology to attain that workflow?
At ETI Digital Technology, we focus mainly on assisting the small- to medium-sized labs, as they have been the last to join the digital dentistry world, and it is also difficult for them to transition from their conventional workflow to a new digital workflow. I show them how easy it is to go through this transition and change, while being the same laboratory their dentists have come to work with. The hardest part is always trying to figure out what to do with the dental technician whose position has been taken over by digital dentistry. The reality is that we guide the laboratory owners to re-train, instead of lay off, their employees. To achieve this, a waxer or a metal finisher is re-trained to scan, design and mill. With their current knowledge and experience in dentistry, this makes them perfect for the new position while providing higher profitability for the overall lab business in the quickest turnaround times.
The 30 multi-die plate used to scan copings with a Dental Wings system.
What have you seen labs achieve with the Dental Wings 7Series Scanner?
The 7Series Scanner is a full 5-axis scanner that requires no scan powder and has the ability to scan and design 30 ready-to-mill units in 15 minutes. The 7Series Scanner’s capability has so totally transformed the laboratory business that many are still in shock. The labs are not required to put all 30 units at once to utilize the multi-die scanning feature. They have the flexibility to scan and design from one to up to 30 units at once. The biggest issue is teaching a dental technician how to type! With this scanner in place, labs are also capable of providing a variety of restorations to their clients, i.e. abutments, partial frameworks, Prettau bridges, implant bars, post & cores with crowns and creating their custom anatomy very simply, without any brain strain. For many labs, this has opened many doors and opportunities they could not have imagined just a couple of years ago.
How have they been able to take a scanned file and convert it to tangible results with the Roland DWX-50 mill?
The Roland DWX-50 is amazing. It’s a complete, simultaneous 5-axis, with a small footprint and doesn’t have many requirements-it goes and goes. Just a few years ago, this type of mill would have cost $60,000 to $80,000 and been a dream. However, with the Roland DWX-50 milling machine in-house, this potential has become a reality, especially when you consider all the work it can do. Depending on whose CAM software the laboratories buy (of course, we recommend the UNIQUE CAM Software I helped to develop), you can mill a full contour crown in seven-to-12 minutes, depending on the crown and the required anatomy. Our custom milling tools allow the milling machine to mill 700 crowns or copings without having to change the tools. This type of machine, with the special additions that ETI and I have brought to it, brings digital dentistry down to earth, where the laboratories realize how extremely quick the return on investment is.
Check out this video to learn more about ETI's Unique CAM...
How has this changed and improved labs’ workflow?
This change in workflow has allowed laboratories to go back and make money. ETI Digital Technology has helped laboratories that once only looked to see if they could pay bills to realize they can make money. We showed one lab their outsourcing bill per month was nearly $11,000. They had considered this “just the cost of doing business.” When we showed them that by bringing Dental Wings and Roland into their lab they would be putting $9,000 a month back into the lab’s income, they were amazed to the point of being speechless.
How has this changed what labs are able to accomplish?
Dental Wings and Roland now allow the small laboratories to be like the big labs but still able to offer the customer attention at a smaller lab. If needed, they now can make a crown in one day. The only limitation is the designer’s imagination and the available materials, which are changing daily and opening more opportunities and doors for the laboratories.
How does this improve labs’ bottom lines?
I’m not sure a lot of labs really look at the bottom line, but they should look at it through digital glasses. They’ll be able to at least triple a lab output without adding more employees, offer more and better prostheses without adding more employees and machinery and have more time to enjoy things in life. That’s really the main point: having more time to have a life outside the laboratory. Most lab techs are used to 12- and 16-hour days and more, but this enables them to do that same work in four-to-five hours. I would hope they would take the added time and income to enjoy life better and help their employees. A lab came to our booth in Chicago and asked some questions with regards to abutments. I showed them cases I had done and they figured they would only have to do 10 abutments a month to pay for the entire system, scanner, CAD, mill and CAM, and they are currently doing 10 or more abutments per day that they have to outsource. So they saw more units per day, more income and more profit.
How does ETI Digital Technology continue to work with labs after they’ve developed a digital workflow?
ETI Digital Technology offers continual education courses and hands-on classes in digital dentistry. We also provide co-marketing support for our laboratory partners. At ETI, once a laboratory purchases a system from us, they are not just a customer, they are our partner. Their success is equal to ours, so we are dedicated to ensure they are well-supported in ongoing marketing of their laboratory, as well as technical support. All our laboratory partners have my personal cell phone number so they are never far from an answer and technical support. Our website is filled with answers, product information and videos that I made to help in situations where a review would be needed. Our whole team takes education and training courses from our manufacturers so we are always up-to-date and knowledgeable about what we support, sell and promote with confidence.
So what’s coming up for labs in the digital world?
Seeing what is coming forward in the digital age is so exciting, especially new materials and milling advancements that you cannot even imagine. Just look at a smart phone: seven or eight years ago, to do all the things it can do today would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. The technology was not even available, and yet now we have a device that can take photos, videos, surf the web, has four or more processors inside, talk and video talk, just to name a few. Can you imagine what the future is going to bring to those laboratories that have embraced the digital age? Make a crown in an hour without using an oven or furnace; imagine a partial denture in as little 45 minutes; or bars for all-on-four ready for setting in one hour. But you don’t have to imagine-these items are here with ETI Digital Technology, Dental Wings and Roland as your partners.