Watching the GRIN

March 21, 2012
Noah Levine
Issue 3

While Mark Jackson, RDT, and Precision Ceramics Dental Laboratory try to stay on the cutting edge of the materials currently available in the dental industry, he’s always keeping an eye on the latest developments in technologies from other industries.

While Mark Jackson, RDT, and Precision Ceramics Dental Laboratory try to stay on the cutting edge of the materials currently available in the dental industry, he’s always keeping an eye on the latest developments in technologies from other industries.

There are four areas that he sees developing the keys to the industry’s future; Genetics, Information, Robotics and Nanotechnology, which he sums up with the handy abbreviation GRIN.

“Those are the four areas that are growing super quickly and are affecting medial device manufacturing like crazy,” he said.

While he isn’t convinced genetic research will lead to patients being able to regrow entire teeth, he does see the development of biological implants that will be a bone graft of sorts that is then traditionally prepped and still requires a crown. Key developments the area of robotics set to impact dental labs will come in the form of ever more accurate, efficient and self-reliant, high-capacity milling technologies, Jackson said.

“Robots with arms and legs will not be walking around the laboratory,” he added with a laugh.

Still enhanced automation and CAM production will be key developments, as will new methods of information transfer. Digital file exchanges are already a part of today’s dental industry, and Jackson said this looks to continue to spread with remote design capabilities and long-distance collaboration already available.

“Our labor isn’t going to be hands on labor, now it’s going to be intellectual labor,” he said.

The final development Jackson is watching closely comes in the form of new nanotechnology-derived resins. This area of technology is likely to produce new resin infiltrated ceramics that blur the lines between how resins and ceramics are currently used, and eventually may blur the lines between ceramics and enamel.

The timeframe for these technologies to hit the market is certainly not clear, but Jackson said he wants to make sure he and his lab are at the leading edge. In order to stay there he plans to carefully monitor every development throughout the GRIN.