The Top 5 Takeaways from Lab Day West

May 24, 2013

On May 10-11, I had the opportunity to attend Lab Day West, held in Anaheim, Cali. The weekend was a wonderful blur of sessions, booths and being mesmerized by various milling machines, but I managed to glean a few observations from the weekend. If you were there, I’d love to hear what stuck out to you! What were your favorite sessions? What products caught your attention? Did you get to go to Disneyland? (Kidding!) Weigh in by commenting below! In the meantime, here are my five biggest takeaways from Lab Day West:

On May 10-11, I had the opportunity to attend Lab Day West, held in Anaheim, Cali. The weekend was a wonderful blur of sessions, booths and being mesmerized by various milling machines, but I managed to glean a few observations from the weekend. If you were there, I’d love to hear what stuck out to you! What were your favorite sessions? What products caught your attention? Did you get to go to Disneyland? (Kidding!) Weigh in by commenting below!

In the meantime, here are my five biggest takeaways from Lab Day West:

1. Digital design is incredibly artistic.

At a 3Shape training session on customized abutments and implant bars and bridges, I saw how much design prowess goes into the creation of these small restoratives. It reminded me most of watching behind the scenes videos from movies with major CGI effects-a creative person, sitting in front of a computer, making almost imperceptible changes that make all the difference in the final product. It reminded me how much artistry is in the lab world, even if the world outside of the lab market doesn’t recognize it.

2. There is beauty, not just utility, in good equipment.

Confession time: At one point, I stood in front of a Roland DWX-50, mesmerized as it slowly transformed a zirconia disc into individual restorations. Obviously, such technology is common, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and recognizing how amazing it is that something like that can be done using just a computer and a small, benchtop mill setup. Technology has changed every industry and the lab world is no exception.

3. Dental lab workers want to learn.

Even though role of lab technician is highly specialized and skilled, there is still an incredible thirst for knowledge. Almost every session I attended was standing room only by the end, with people asking questions to figure out how to get their lab to the next level. It’s a remarkable testament to an industry that’s clearly invested in learning how to get better-not just because they have to, but because they want to.

4. The greatest technology is no replacement for great technique.

During my time at Lab Day West, I attended a session from Tanaka Dental, featuring a lecture and clinic from Asami Tanaka, a legend in the lab world. The session was the most crowded I attended, and it was a reminder that, even as technology has increased, there’s still great respect for classic and careful technique. There’s obviously a hunger for learning from the people who are widely considered to be masters in the lab field.

5. No matter the size, labs have a lot to offer.

Maybe the biggest realization I had is how much every lab can do now, no matter what the size. Technology, innovation, outsourcing options and leaps in material availability and pricing have made it possible for any lab to commit to a variety of services. It’s exciting to see how much the dental lab industry has changed in the last decade, and being at Lab Day West made me excited to see what will happen in the next.

Ryan Hamm is the managing editor of Dental Lab Products.

Photo by Flickr user prayitno