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Ryan Hamm is the former Editorial Director for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.
Dental Lab Products talks to Norbert Ulmer, Director of Laboratory CAD/CAM at Sirona, about Sirona's latest innovations and its merger with DENTSPLY.
Sirona has had a busy 18 months-between releasing software updates and debuting new products, they also merged with DENTSPLY to create Dentsply Sirona, one of the largest dental companies in the world.
We recently spoke to Norbert Ulmer, Director of Laboratory CAD/CAM at Sirona, about the company's big moves and unveilings, and what we can expect next.
Q: Sirona released several major products for labs in 2015. If you had to pick one, which one has you most excited?
A: inLab SW 15 is by far the most exciting and impactful product that we have introduced as it acts as the control center and communication hub for all other applications and components. inLab SW 15 is the gateway to the ever-growing Sirona Connect digital impression service, enabling not only the receipt of digital impression cases from Sirona dentists, but also streamlining communication with dentists via an integrated chat functionality as well as the capability to offer a design service for CEREC dentists. Furthermore, our dedicated iTero, 3Shape and exocad file imports, complemented by STL import, allow the lab to use Sirona inLab SW 15 for literally any case that comes through the door of their lab or digital impression portal. Powerful design features, such as the biogeneric jaw design mode which generates the most patient specific anatomies, and the multi-unit screw-retained implant design mode, add easy-to-use techniques to the software that translate directly into new profit making opportunities.
Q; Sirona works with both dentists and labs-how do you see the lab-dentist workflow changing and adjusting?
A: During the past year we noticed a substantial increase in dentists adopting digital impression units in an effort to replace conventional impressions, enhance their service level and increase patient satisfaction. Sirona pays tribute to this trend by continuously improving our Sirona Connect web service, along with adding software interfaces on the laboratory side (inLab SW 15) and on the dentist’s side (Sirona Connect SW 4.4). As I just mentioned, recent introductions include a chat-functionality for enhanced communication between dentist and lab as well as a design service functionality that enables a CEREC dentist to send their scans of cases to a dental technician through Sirona Connect for expert designing and then have the finished design sent back to the dentist for milling. We are always motivated to improve speed, turnaround and efficiency. For additional convenience, labs can download the Sirona Connect App from the Apple App Store and then receive, review and accept Sirona Connect cases directly from their smartphone even on the go, such as while they are out of the lab making deliveries.
Q: How is Sirona helping labs walk through those changes?
A: Sirona offers a wide range of basic and advanced training courses that are continuously being offered in North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, California and Oklahoma. Most of these courses are free-of-charge to Sirona inLab laboratories, who can send as many of their technicians as they like, as often as they please. You can always find the most current course schedule at inLabevents.com. Furthermore we are offering regular webinars, on-site trainings at major tradeshows such as the LMT Lab Days as well as in-depth training, business and networking opportunities at our annual inLab Summits and SIROWORLD events. Last but not least, we partner closely with inLabOnDemand.com, an education center with facilities at the East Coast and West Coast that offers live trainings as well as internet based video tutorials about all aspects of inLab software or hardware. Also, all new inLab users receive a free one year membership with inLabOnDemand.com in order to gain access to their comprehensive educational video tutorials.
Next page: Understanding Sirona's merger with DENTSPLY ...
Q: The big news coming out of the dental industry was Sirona’s merger with DENTSPLY. Could you give a little background about that?
A: Sirona and DENTSPLY are, in my opinion, a perfect match for each other. Both companies are coming from a position of strength in their respective market segments which has led to this merger of equals. DENTSPLY, the market leader in dental consumables and Sirona, the market leader in dental technology and equipment, creates the world’s largest and most diversified manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies.
Q: What are you most excited about in terms of the merger?
A: Dentsply Sirona will have approximately 15,000 employees, of which over 600 experienced scientists and engineers will foster the development of better, safer and faster dental care. This, in conjunction with an annual investment of approx. $150 million in R&D will create the largest R&D platform in the industry. I am particularly excited about the synergies that will be obtained by combining DENTSPLY’s consumables platform with Sirona’s technology and equipment. Our new company will offer more innovative products and integrated solutions than any other dental organization in the industry.
Q: Sirona had a big 2015. What’s on the docket for 2016?
A: Over the past couple of years, we introduced some major new products both on the hardware as well as on the software side. inEos X5 is still the only robotic scanner on the market. inLab MC XL is still the fastest glass-ceramic mill complemented by inLab MC X5 as the only 5-axis seamless dry/wet mill on the market. And inLab SW 15 is the software that brings everything together. Integration and synergies will continue to drive Dentsply Sirona with our combined technology and material expertise through the expanding digital evolution. We are already integrating treatment planning software with inLab SW 15 for the design and fabrication of surgical guides. We also have continued integration of SICAT Function into inLab SW 15 that already allows for the import of dynamic functional data in combination with cone-beam and intra-oral CEREC data to replicate patient specific dynamics inside inLab SW 15. Last but not least, of course we will continue to further enhance the previously mentioned integration between inLab software and in-office digital impression systems.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Sirona has thrived in the past and will continue to thrive as Dentsply Sirona by focusing on innovation that is relevant to our customers. Our innovation has been the root of your success. And your success has been the root of ours. Sirona CAD/CAM has been around for over thirty years and inLab specifically has existed for over fifteen. There is a vast group of laboratories who has been with Sirona inLab from the very beginning because they recognized at a very early stage that investing into digital is not like investing into yet another casting machine or porcelain press. They have recognized that investing into digital means investing into a relationship that accompanies the transition of an entire business from analog to digital. It goes well beyond the life-cycle of any individual product and Sirona has proven the fact that it has the vision, the will and the capability to accompany this transition. And as we at Sirona are not exempt from reinventing ourselves in order to continue to drive and leverage the opportunities that present themselves, Sirona will continue as Dentsply Sirona to deliver the innovation and business opportunities that our laboratories are used to and expect from us.