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Dental Lab

Authors: Dr. Erich Schmidt

When new laboratory equipment is purchased, there are a wide variety of aspects that factor in product selection. Particularly important to me when it comes to investments of this kind is that only the best and most innovative technology is considered. Since establishing our laboratory in 1983, this strategy has allowed us – even after 1999 – to buck the trend by consistently growing. Today, our dental laboratory “Dentallabor Schmidt” and the affiliated dental milling and service center (DFDZ) has a total of 58 employees.

In the meantime, almost all areas of our laboratory are state-of-the-art. In the patient rooms, digital shade taking is performed using the VITA Easyshade Compact. As part of FORUM 3000, training coursesare offered on 3D imaging and navigated implantology. And our range of services also includes computer-aided fabrication of restorations as well as 3D implant planning. Achieving and maintaining technical standards of this kind requires considerable investment. So that such investments are not just attractive from a technical perspective, product concepts are required that also take commercial demands into consideration. The best example of this is the VITA VACUMAT New Generation firing system.

The concept
I first became aware of the VITA VACUMAT New Generation at IDS 2009, where a modular system with an attractive and compact design was presented that included a firing unit, a combipress furnace, three control units and a comprehensive set of accessories. Users purchase only the modules that they currently require and can upgrade their system later with additional components as necessary. This allows firing systems to be configured that are perfectly tailored to individual requirements, and that can be adapted at any time to changes in laboratory needs. This “future-proof” concept convinced me from the outset, and when the decision was made to invest in further ceramic furnaces, one thing was clear: it would have to be VITA New Generation. Making this decision was particularly easy for us because we have only ever had positive experiences with products “Made in Bad Säckingen”. We have also been using VITA furnaces for a long time– we have had a total of four models in operation for the last 13 years that have always performed reliably. Even the muffles are still going strong, despite the pressure put on them.

Customized firing system
In February 2010, three additional ceramic furnaces from the new VITA VACUMAT 6000 M range were installed. This was followed at the start of July 2010 by a VITA VACUMAT 6000 MP combipress unit (Fig. 2). Each of our six ceramic technicians as well as our two trainees all now have a furnace at their disposal. So that they could be more easily distinguished from one another, the compact furnaces – ours have an anthracite finish – were equipped with different-colored side panels and magnetic numbering that is included with the accessories. Moreover, in addition to the LED display, it was also possible to define adjustable acoustic alerts so that the current operating status could also be signaled from a distance in order to save time. My staff finds that both of these features certainly come in handy.
The VITA VACUMAT 6000 M ceramic furnace can be used for all dental ceramic firings as well as for all-ceramic materials available on the market. This is important, as for the last two years we have processed an equal amount of zirconium dioxide, non-precious metal and titanium framework materials. We mainly use the VITA VM range for veneering; we recently switched from VITA OMEGA 900 to VITA VM 13without any difficulty. Ceramics from other manufacturers do not present any problems. We saw that the firing results were of consistently good quality regardless of the material used. In addition to the superior quality silica quartz muffle, the new, dark-colored firing chamber materials also play an important role in this regard as they ensure significantly more homogenous and even heat distribution in the firing chamber and prevent reflection of heat. The VITA VACUMAT 6000 MP combipress furnace offers all the programs and functionality of the ceramic furnace, while also supporting press techniques. Pressing is performed using pneumatic pressing equipment, which offers the benefit of providing the high pressure necessary as well as a long service life with almost no wear and tear. Automatic detection of the number of pressing pellets used, as well as an adaptive press feed with press path monitoring throughout the program, allow pressing to be completed safely and accurately.

Service package
We control our furnaces using two VITA vPad excellence control units (Fig. 3). The VITA vPad control unit is available in three variations: easy, comfort and excellence. As vPad comfort supports multiple furnace operation for up to two furnaces, this option would have theoretically been sufficient for our current needs. However, VITA vPad excellence offers even more functionality, allowing control of up to four furnaces, so that we can install additional furnaces in the future without investing in additional control units. I also find multiple furnace operation to be very handy and convenient.
In addition to other benefits, VITA vPad excellence offers access to up to 1,000 customizable firing programs and the assurance of proof of quality through storage of all firing data. This is necessary in order to meet the quality management requirements placed on today's commercial laboratories. The option that allows user accounts (known as user profiles) to be created for customized programs and settings – write-protected if necessary – is also extremely useful as, after all, all ceramic technicians have their own particular approach to firing. The user profiles can be transferred to other control units using a USB flash drive, which saves time when it comes to programming multiple control units. The PDP (personal data protection) function allows personalized settings to be saved.
A further advantage of the control unit is the integrated photo viewer (2 GB memory) that offers a variety of functions and allows patient images to be displayed on the 8.5-inch color touchscreen. Almost half our cases come with photos, as many of the dental surgeons who place work with us are not located nearby and so their patients cannot consult directly in our laboratory.
The system is rounded off by numerous monitoring and service programs such as automatic temperature adjustment in advance of program startup, automatic prevention of condensed water in the insulating material, an automatic cleaning function, controlled fast cooling and a lot more.

User-friendly control
I was pleasantly surprised to find that operation is user-friendly, despite all the complex technology. In our milling center I also notice regularly that not every member of staff is comfortable using modern technology. This is why the motto “The easier, the better” is a must for us when it comes to operation. This reduces the time required for staff to become familiar with the system, minimizes the risk of error and optimizes the workflow. Simplified control using the VITA vPads has been achieved using self-explanatory symbols and a logically structured menu that allows truly intuitive operation. The various materials and user accounts are arranged in a clear and explicit fashion, and even controlling multiple furnaces using a single control unit could not be easier.

I expect a new generation of furnaces to offer a real breakthrough in innovation. And VITA VACUMAT New Generation fully meets my expectations. The firing and pressing results are of a consistently high quality, operation could not be easier, and the compact design is ergonomic and efficient so that even the most demanding users will be satisfied. And thanks to the modular construction, our customized system is not merely a static representation of current technology – it can also be adapted to meet our requirements and needs in the future. Figures 4 to 7 show some examples of work fired using VITA VACUMAT New Generation.

Master dental technician Erich Schmidt
IMPORTANT: Please make sure to specify the source where this was first published.

Taken from “DENTALZEITUNG”, issue 04/2010, Germany  
    • 1969-1973 Trained as a dental technician
    • 1973-1974 Military service
    • 1974-1977 Manager of an investment casting department
    • 1977-1982 Dental laboratory manager
    • 1979-1982 Attended night classes to qualify as a master technician
    • 1983 Opened the dental laboratory “Dentallabor Schmidt GmbH”
    • 1995 Founded FORUM 2000 (training courses, seminars and workshops for dental surgeons and practice managers)
    • 2000 FORUM 2000 renamed as FORUM 3000
    • 2004 Opened DFDZ (dental milling and service center)
    • 2010 Executive manager of “Dentallabor Schmidt” with 58 employees

  2. We would appreciate a sample copy of any reprints.

    VITA Zahnfabrik H. Rauter GmbH & Co. KG
    Headquartered in Bad Säckingen/Germany, VITA Zahnfabrik H. Rauter GmbH & Co. KG has been developing, producing and marketing innovative solutions for dental prosthetics according to consistently high quality standards for over 85 years, and has been known from the very beginning as a pioneer and worldwide trendsetter. The VITA shade standard, for instance, is recognised internationally in the dental branch as a shade reference system. Users in 120 different countries benefit from the comprehensive range of products and services provided by VITA Zahnfabrik. These include analogue and digital tooth shade determination systems, acrylic and ceramic teeth, veneering and framework materials for conventional and computer-aided manufacturing procedures, dental equipment as well as a wide range of service and training facilities.


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