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Kristin Hohman serves as Associate Editor for DPR.
Ultradent sends its VALO Grand curing light to space to mark its 10th anniversary.
Sure, Ultradent Products, Inc. could have thrown a run-of-the-mill party to celebrate the 10th VALO curing light’s 10th anniversary on the market.
But Mike Simmons, global brand manager at Ultradent, had a more elaborate idea. Simmons was one of the architects of the VALO Light to Space initiative, Ultradent's plan to send the VALO to all new heights.
Thanks to inspiration from a friend's family, Simmons set out to send the VALO Grand into space on May 1, 2019 -10 years to the day the VALO line appeared on the market. The goal was to send the VALO light to a height of 100,000 feet using a weather balloon with GoPro cameras attached to capture its journey. He didn’t ask for a lot of permission, Simmons said on the company’s blog post about the project.
Along for the ride was a bobblehead of Ultradent founder and CEO Dr. Dan Fischer. Using a standard weather balloon purchased online, four GoPros were placed inside a styrofoam box, with the VALO light and bobblehead attached to the outside and rigged to the balloon.
After several practice runs and overcoming a few complications (including a nationwide helium shortage), Simmons and Oliver Brown, Ultradent's Brand Manager for the VALO curing light line were ready for launch. Converting the front yard outside of Ultradent’s South Jordan, UT offices to a makeshift launch pad, the balloon was released.
Using a website calculator, the team was able to map the haul’s trajectory and flight path. After hours of waiting, they received notice that of landing about 70 miles from where they predicted. Snow in the Uintas Mountains slowed down the recovery mission, which was then resumed on Aug. 8, 99 days after launch.
Simmons and Brown, joined by Ultradent video production specialist Martin Webb. All three took off on horseback for a two-day journey into the mountains. They were able to recover the styrofoam box but were disheartened to see that the VALO was no longer attached.
After a few days of scanning the video evidence from the GoPros, a second search party took off to rescue the VALO Grand from the wilderness. This time Brown and assistant brand manager Katie Loyola were able to track down the device in the mountains. Brown popped new batteries in and right away they heard the telltale ‘beep’, meaning the light was still in working order. The fully-functional VALO curing light spent a total of 126 days in the elements.
In honor of the line’s 10th anniversary, Ultradent announced last week that they are expanding the manufacturer’s warranty to five years on all VALO dental curing lights.
To learn more about the VALO Grand curing light, visit ultradent.com/products/categories/equipment. To read the full story of the VALO’s journey, visit https://intl.ultradent.com/blog/posts/behind-the-scenes-sending-valo-curing-light-to-space.