Free E-Book: Learn How to Return to the 'Gold Standard' & Make a Profit in Gold Posterior Restorations

May 5, 2014
Steve Diogo
Issue 4

Learn about the breakthrough technology that’s revolutionizing the CAD/CAM milling of gold restorations, and how your lab can benefit by returning to the "gold standard."

Learn about the breakthrough technology that’s revolutionizing the CAD/CAM milling of gold restorations, and how your lab can benefit by returning to the "gold standard."

According to a 2012 survey by Lanmark360, 98.5 percent of dentists say gold is the best material for restoring posterior teeth. Despite the past decade’s advancements in restorative materials and milling technologies, gold remains dentists’ material of choice because of its unmatched combination of hardness, antagonistic wear, malleability and ease of cementation and removal.

So why have orders for gold plummeted in the past decade?

According to Scott Mappin, vice president of operations for Pittsburg-based Strategy Milling, the culprits are technology and economics. Gold prices have skyrocketed over the past decade, from a around $400 an ounce in 2004 to almost $2,000 in 2012. Today the price is just shy of $1,300 an ounce. The price is also highly unstable: In 2014 alone the price has ranged from $1,200 to close to $1,400 an ounce. In addition to high prices that put gold out of range for most dental patients, the instability meant labs and dentists struggled to set prices for gold restorations.

Over the same period, the lab industry was transformed by technological innovations spurred the development of new materials and efficient CAD/CAM milling systems that could accurately mill them into quality restorations. This combination of price instability and alternative production methods made it virtually impossible to produce gold restorations on an economically viable scale.

Today, it appears there’s a solution to both of these problems, and you can learn more about it-and learn how your lab can benefit from it-by downloading the free Dental Lab Products EBook, “How to Return to the Gold Standard in Posterior Restorations.”

Birth of an idea

Talk to Mappin about what it took to create a viable system for milling gold restorations and you’ll hear the story of a mission. It’s a mission Mappin was uniquely qualified to fulfill. His resume is virtually a topographic map of the changing landscape of the dental lab industry. He’s been a lab technician, manager, trainer and owner. He’s a scanning and technology expert who’s worked with some of the biggest operations in the United States. He’s also the brother of Don Mappin, who just happens to own Atlantic Precious Metal Refining, the family company to which Scott came home in 2011.

“Pretty much as soon as I got to Atlantic, my brother asked me why nobody’s milling gold,” Scott says. “And I told him what everyone says when you first tell them you can mill gold: It can’t be done. Gold’s too soft to mill. There’s too much waste. It’s too expensive.”

That’s when Don said, “But we’re a refinery. It’s what we do … we refine the metal and we recover and reuse the waste.”

That’s when the light bulb went off, Scott says. “Atlantic had the waste problem solved. No one had ever looked at milling gold because it wasn’t economically feasible. There’s no way any lab would pay $8,000 for a puck just to get 24 cases out of it and sell the waste back to a refinery. The recycling circle for labs would require millions of dollars of inventory,” he says. But since Atlantic is a refinery, we have the gold and we have everything we need to manage the entire production and recycling circle ourselves.”

Two challenges remained: Perfecting a refining process to produce gold pucks, and finding a milling machine robust, sensitive and accurate enough to mill the material. After a year of research and development, the company discovered the solutions to these challenges. Atlantic developed a proprietary process that produces relatively porosity-free gold pucks in different thicknesses. And after investigating close to 30 different milling systems, they found their milling machine in the Roeders RXD5

Strategy Milling was born from this unique confluence of experience and resources.

“This wasn’t something just anyone could do,” Mappin says. “Everyone, including me, believed gold could not be milled. And it can’t, unless you own the refinery and the milling system. We’re definitely in a unique situation.”

For lab owners, the development of affordable, predictable gold-milling technology means they can once again-and more easily than ever before-offer their clients the unmatched quality of gold restorations. For Scott, it means something even more valuable.

“I look back over my career and the recent history of our industry, and it just all seems to point to this,” he says. “If I wasn’t doing this, I seriously don’t know what else I could be doing.”

Download the Free E-Book to discover more about the technological innovations behind milled gold restorations and learn how your lab can start profiting from these advancements today.