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Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author of 18 technology books, including the award-winning Green IT: Reduce Your Information System's Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line. As such, he’s particularly interested in the technological side of dentistry.
One lab owner explains how Amann Girrbach’s mills have increased his productivity.
Amann Girrbach already had a winner on its hands with its Ceramill DNA Generation mills. The Ceramill Mikro 4X and Motion 2 5X were solid performers, but a recent refresh of the line – including two new models and improved performance to existing models – make them very attractive additions to labs of all sizes.
Jim Wehrman, owner of Nordent Dental Lab in Long Beach, California, has had the new Motion 2 since the first of the year, and he couldn’t be more pleased with its performance.
Overall, Wehrman says his Motion 2 mill is a solid, multipurpose machine that is easy to use and eliminates a lot of unnecessary steps.
“It’s just overall an all-around great tool,” Wehrman says. “You finally have something that you eliminate a lot of extra, unnecessary labor costs and material costs in the old way of making things. That helps us increase profits tremendously. I’m a small lab. We only have 10 people in our lab, and by having the machine some of the technicians, at first, really didn’t like it. But once they got involved with it and saw that they can do other things while the machine is doing its work, they grew to love it. And it just simplifies everything. The mill quality is just phenomenal. It’s just made our products so much better.”
It’s his history with Amann Girrbach that brought him back for the upgraded model.
“I’ve been doing this for about 32 years, and Amann Girrbach has always had great products in the past, so that’s why I chose to go with AG’s milling machines,” Wehrman says.
Amann Girrbach’s line of DNA Generation mills are elegant, futuristic-looking machines. But it’s what’s under the hood that makes them exceptional additions to labs.
A new feature available with the DNA line is a “carving mode.” This process reduces grinding times of difficult to process materials-like glass ceramics and hybrid ceramics-by up to 60 percent. In contrast to the linear movement of tools used in traditional milling or grinding, carving mode enables the creation of curved paths. Instead of the blank being ground down to the required size, the excess material is cut off as a whole and completely separated. This procedure reduces the time spent on milling and grinding single-tooth indications by up to 60 percent without sacrificing precision.
Up next: Meet the mills...
Meet the mills
The first DNA milling machines were introduced six years ago and have just been given interior and exterior overhauls, even extending the line to include two new machines-entry-level models that are ideally suited for smaller labs.
• Ceramill Mikro 4X: A robust and compact four-axis milling machine for dry processing blanks and single blocks, such as zirconia, hybrid ceramics or dry-millable composite materials. The mill is equipped with high-performance components for permanent stability, economy and precision with low investment costs, enabling easy entry into CAD/CAM fabrication.
• Ceramill Mikro 5X: Also equipped for the dry mode, this compact unit incorporates the latest five-axis technology. In addition to conventional standard indications, it enables in-house fabrication of splints, bars and implant bridges in minimum space but with a wide range of services.
• Ceramill Mikro ic 4X: This four-axis milling unit extends in-house fabrication of conventional laboratory indications to include the option of wet grinding/milling.
• Ceramill Motion 2 5X: This is the flagship of the Ceramill CAD/CAM brand and was introduced to dental laboratories in 2012. The Ceramill Motion 2 is a benchmark in terms of the range of indications and materials in-house. The Ceramill Motion 2 can be used either as a purely dry or wet unit, or in combined operation for an unlimited range of materials and indications.
Up next: First impressions...
Wehrman has used the new Motion 2 since January, and he’s especially impressed with the machine’s wet/dry capabilities.
“Being a wet/dry machine, you can do your zirconia,” he says. “You can do lithium disilicate. You can do a lot of provisional work for implant abutments. Now, you can mill PMMA in a wet mode. PMMA is such a hard material that if you’re running it in a dry mode, you really go through a lot of tooling.”
The design and construction of the machine makes it more robust and durable.
“Compared to the other mills I see, where it’s belt-driven and it’s also running on a rail system,” Wehrman observes. “Zirconium dust is quite abrasive, over time. Just looking at the machine and how it was designed, we don’t have the dust generation with it.”
Wehrman says that it is well-suited for labs of any size-even the smallest-because it can do so many things with very little babysitting from technicians. He calls his Motion 2 a “complete machine.”
“Even if you are a one-man laboratory, it would be the machine to have because you can do so many different processes in one machine,” Wehrman says.
Its ability to work with multiple material types is important for his lab because it allows the manufacture of a variety of products.
“You kind of go from an analog stage to a digital stage,” Wehrman observes. “For example, now instead of doing temporaries by hand, the mill is doing it for you, even your night guards. It takes a lot of steps out of making night guards an analog way, or a temporary an analog way, or a crown, milling wax, milling zirconium. We’ve been designing and milling surgical guides on the machine. So, for the machines, there’s a lot of different things you can implement as far as your workload for the machine.”
Wehrman says the mill’s precision and accuracy leads to better restoration fit and can be customized based on doctors’ specifications.
“With any of these things, you can put in the doctor’s preference,” he explains. “For instance, one doctor may not be making his provisionals correctly, and every time you send them, the case is in hyperocclusion. Well, you can tell the hardware that on Dr. So-and-so, to put this 0.5 out of occlusion, and they’re always happy. All the dentist wants to do is to seat the crown-not touch it-and be on their way, and you’ll be their best friend.”
Up next: The future of dentistry...
Embracing the future
It’s no secret that CAD/CAM is the future of dentistry, and Wehrman says that a mill like the Ceramill Motion 2 is a great addition for the lab-and also helps with those doctors who are adding their own digital devices to the workflow.
“Between some of the intraoral scans that we’re starting to get more of now and being able to physically mill those scans, we can double-check contacts, marginal fit and things like that,” he says.
The materials used in CAD/CAM, he observes, are leading to more accurate, better fitting products.
“I think, overall, with these newer materials that we’re running, it’s just changed dentistry so much,” Wehrman says. “Understand, the times a PFM goes to laboratory, the amount of times you have to physically sandblast the PFM for degassing or through the process of doing a porcelain crown, there’s no way the marginal fit is going to be as good as it was when it was first cast. I think what we see with these things, when you’re running a good scanner and a good mill, and zirconium or a good product, is that you’re going to have a good result.”
Wehrman recommends the Ceramill DNA Generation line to any lab-mainly because of its flexibility and utility.
“I think it’s a great machine for everybody,” he says. “Because every laboratory is going to need a place to mill dry and a place to mill wet. Why would you only want to have a dry mill here and then another wet mill there when you can have one that does both? It’s all in one.”
In the end, Wehrman says that the DNA Generation mills are good investments for the lab-investments that will quickly turn a profit.
“I would say spend a little bit of extra money for that mill,” he says. “In the long run, the mill will pay for itself, fairly quickly. If you’re just limiting yourself to a dry mill, then you’re limiting yourself to just one material, basically, whereas if you’re running wet/dry, it opens up your spectrum of materials that you can run so much greater. And, in my opinion, it’s only going to get greater with more materials you can run, either wet or dry.”