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Ryan Hamm is the Editorial Director for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.
Alexander Wuensche and Christian Ermer talk about the Ceramill CAD/CAM system from Amann Girrbach.
Amann Girrbach has long been a leading player in the CAD/CAM space. From its equipment to its materials, it’s been involved in the digitization of the lab market since the beginning. To find out why that is, what makes Amann Girrbach (AG) CAD/CAM offerings unique and what we might expect to see from the company in the future, we spoke with Christian Ermer, the head of product management at AG, along with Alexander Wuensche, a dental technician and lab owner who is a regular user of AG products. Here’s what they told us:
Could you explain your roles and how you’re associated with Amann Girrbach?
CE: I am Christian Ermer and have been head of product management at Amann Girrbach for two years now.
In this role, I am responsible for the development of our product portfolio and the introduction of new products.
AW: I am Alexander Wuensche. I am the owner of Zahntechnique Dental Laboratory in Miami. I did my education as a dental technician in Germany in a family-owned laboratory and dental office. I was basically born into the dental business. Our lab specializes in complex full-mouth implant reconstructions, all-ceramic and digital dentistry. Besides the laboratory, I speak for Amann Girrbach on national dental conferences and am a consultant in digital workflows and materials.
The complete Ceramill CAD/CAM system
One of the things Amann Girrbach has done with its Ceramill system is offer a start-to-finish solution. Christian, why has that been a value for Amann Girrbach? Alex, how does such a solution help the lab with its work?
CE: For us at AG, offering the highest versatility possible to our customers is at the center of all our efforts. We provide an unmatched range of indications and materials that actually work-all supported and approved by us. What differentiates us from other companies in our industry is that we invest a lot of resources in ensuring 100 percent functionality of the features and products we provide along the digital lab process.
With this we can guarantee that the product solutions we offer really work at our customer’s lab in every situation and fully support our customers and partners.
As we offer the complete workflow from scanning to designing and the milling machines, including the complete range of CAD/CAM materials, we can control every single component of it and ensure the optimal outcome. On the other hand, if a customer needs support from us, we deliver a one-stop-service and support no matter what the issue is. We won’t put you in the, what I call, the “referral roundabout” in which you are referred from manufacturer to manufacturer without providing a solution. We have a hands-on, not hands-off, approach.
AW: If a new product hits the market, AG makes sure it works. We, as customers, are getting a plug-and-play solution, which helps to keep control over the process, and you are ready to [boost] efficiency immediately. You have one communication partner to get support for all equipment and material. This saves time and money when and if help is needed.
Next page: What "integration" means to Amann Girrbach
One of the terms Amann Girrbach uses to describe the Ceramill workflow is “integration.” What do you mean by that in terms of CAD/CAM equipment, materials and software?
CE: For us, integration is a never-ending effort to ensure that every component of our Ceramill system works in an optimal way together. Adding a new indication/feature or material to a CAD/CAM system means you have to adapt many things in the workflow. Let’s take our Ceramill full-denture system, the first completely digital workflow for the production of full dentures. To provide this one-of-a-kind solution, we had to work on every component of our system starting with new scan strategies for our MAP400 desktop scanner, the development of a completely new design module, new milling strategies and burs for the denture base and the adaptation of the denture teeth and last, but not least, two new exchangeable holders. Not to mention a new and bigger wax blank for the base. All this was developed by us and adapted to our system to make a seamless workflow.
But this is not limited to our Amann Girrbach world. We offer a fully open system, and connectivity is key for us and our customers. As an open system, we can process every open STL file provided by a desktop or an intraoral scanner. In this case, integration means that we work closely together with major industry partners to provide an optimal connection to the Ceramill system as well as our milling machines and test very thoroughly the outcome on our milling machine with our materials. If we provide the “approved-by-Amann-Girrbach” label, we ensure the workflow works from A to Z easily and reliably.
Alex, how has integration benefitted your lab and helped your workflow?
AW: I was able to integrate all my digital systems from day one with the AG Ceramill System and even new systems we started working with like different intraoral systems. The support is still from AG because it is the core of our CAD/CAM system. I am able to work with all my systems together without any integration problems and with our clinicians and other lab partners.
The features of Ceramill Ti-Forms
Say a lab buys the entire Amann Girrbach Ceramill system. How can you ensure the purchase is future proofed and won’t be obsolete in just a couple of years?
CE: As I said, for us, the versatility of a CAD/CAM system is the key to long-term success for our customers and us. A CAD/CAM system is maybe the biggest investment in the life of a lab owner and has to provide the highest possible value-add and ROI. This is only possible if your CAD/CAM system allows you to grow with it by constantly adding new features and indications and provides support and training on it. Let’s take the Ti-Forms solution to mill individual one-piece titanium abutments in our Motion 2 as an example. We added this highly profitable feature in October 2014-almost three years after the introduction of the Motion 2. The only thing our existing customers needed to add was a new exchangeable holder. Everything else was automatically updated for free. There was no need for a costly modification of the machine or even buying a new machine.
AW: The Motion 2 is upgradable. I started with the first module and was able to upgrade every year when a new module or material hit the market. The blank holder is interchangeable to work with different materials. I am able to mill from wax over zirconia up to titanium and all the materials we are using for our restorations. As far as I am concerned, it is the only machine that provides upgradable hardware.
How do the products Amann Girrbach is continuing to release fit into this theme of integration?
CE: Every new product is tested for the full functionality in our system. A huge part of our development process is validation of every component used by the new product or feature. We want our customers to work on their daily business and the things that create profit and not on trying to find a way to make things work for them. If you take our zirconia portfolio, integration means that we do not just throw a new blank into the market and leave our customers alone with the handling and coloring. We offer dedicated and easy-to-use, reliable coloring liquids together with a broad range of manuals, video tutorials and professional courses. We help our customers master new products in their labs and use their competitive edge right from the beginning.
Next page: What's to come from Amann Girrbach
Speaking of new products-what can you share with us about upcoming releases from Amann Girrbach?
CE: At AG we are constantly working on more than 30 R&D projects in parallel with a focus on further increasing the versatility of our CAD/CAM products. This fall we will launch more than 10 new products, including a new small scanner, the full-denture system and milling of models based on IOS data. Our most exciting development at the moment is the newly launched Ceramill Zolid FX cubic zirconia. Zolid FX is our completely new super-high translucent zirconia, which was already very successfully introduced to the European market and is now available in the U.S., too. Zolid FX offers, for zirconia, unmatched esthetics, especially for monolithic and anterior restorations. It can be placed up to the molar region and has almost double the flexural strength of lithium disilicate. The customer feedback is overwhelming, and we are currently developing the extension with Zolid FX preshaded blanks. Also, by the end of the year, we will bring our latest member of the Zolid FX family to our customers: Zolid fX multilayer, the perfect material for highly esthetic and efficient monolithic restorations. With this material, you can achieve beautiful restorations without any use of shading liquids or stains. We are really excited about the results of our development, and the feedback of our first test customers proves us right.
A technique featuring Zolid FX
AW: I got the opportunity to beta test the Zolid FX , FX Preshades and FX Multilayer. It is an amazing product, and I am just waiting for all the materials to launch here in the U.S. to be able to use them. It will change the way we solve difficult cases and our “bread-and-butter” work.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CE: This fall, our activities are dominated by the extension of our exchangeable holder portfolio.
With our next update in the upcoming weeks, we are adding several additional exchangeable holders to further increase the versatility of our system. Besides the two holders for full dentures, we will launch a holder for (overnight) milling of 12 CAD/CAM blocks in a row. By the end of the year, we will provide seven different holders for our Motion 2 and will surely not stop there.
AW: On my side, I am very happy to know that I made the right decision in investing in the right product and partner. I am looking forward to using all the new products, including new hardware from Amann Girrbach.