DB Lab Digest

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A blog curated by DB Lab Supplies to provide the dental technology community with creative, interesting and unique content. The content in The DB Lab Digest are the views of the individual authors and not the views of DB Lab Digest.

How CAD/CAM Milling Centres Support Dental Labs: The 5 Advantages.

DB Lab Supplies spoke to Raymond Otto, of Zfx Birmingham, about why so many dental technicians benefit from using milling centres, how the future of digital dentistry is evolving, and why he uses Amber Mill lithium disilicate.

Dentistry continues to evolve, and over the past few years, CAD/CAM milling centres have become instrumental in steering its direction. Through offering scanning and milling services to laboratories, milling centres offer many benefits to the technician, and Zfx is at the heart of this movement. Raymond and his team provide a complete scanning and milling service, in addition to high-end scanners, milling machines, materials and components. To complement the offering, courses for technicians are available.

Raymond Otto is the Zfx UK Milling Centre Owner. Raymond has ambitious plans for Zfx Birmingham.

What motivated you to take on Zfx UK?

It has always been an ambition of mine to start milling in-house and we have dipped our toe in with smaller machines. Geoff has been good friends with the founders of Zfx which originated in Altomunster, Germany. This connection led to an opportunity to head the Zfx UK franchise and we could not pass it up. ZimmerBiomet came on board a couple of years after this and Zfx Milling centres are now the official and authorised milling partners for ZimmerBiomet Dental.

Zfx CAD-CAM suite at Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham.

How do you support laboratories?

Zfx produces milled and printed products of all kinds but do not do any final finishing. We are CAD/ CAM specialists that work closely with fellow dental technicians. This combination of specialists working together produces the most optimum products possible, and in the end, the best results for the patients.Teamwork makes the dream work. Raymond Otto, Geoff Halligan and team members Mostafa Jafari, Hafsah Hussain, and Vu Bui.

Christian Hickman cleaning the inside of one of the machines.

What advantages do laboratories have by using milling centres?

1. Access to a wider range of services

Milling centres can offer a range of comprehensive services and materials expanding upon the products that labs can offer to their clinicians. Labs are no longer limited by a lack of time or by a digital-skills shortage.

2. Digital backup support

At Zfx, we respect the process chain from Clinician to Laboratory; acting as digital backup to technicians.

3. Simplified communications

Clinicians are satisfied that they only have to spend time to interact with their existing laboratory.

4. A cost effective option

Milling is not generally the fundamental business of a dental laboratory. Outsourcing can greatly alleviate the pressure on cash flow. Investment on new machines, repairs, staff training and license fees are constant.

5. More than milling services

Zfx caters for clients at any level by offering not only a scan, design and milling service, but also offering scanners, milling machines and all components and materials necessary in any part of the production chain. 

Left to right: Titanium bar with Zest anchors for removable Prosthesis, DMG Ultrasonic 20 with Sauer automation Primacon, PFM 4024 with Primacon Automation

What changes have you seen in the industry since Covid-19 hit?

It has been a tough and uncertain time for everybody. Obviously, the NHS market has been hit the hardest. The private sector has been normalising ever since the clinicians have been able to return to work, and we have been fortunate enough to be relatively busy since then. There is a huge backlog of patients for NHS treatment. I anticipate that there may be more private work than ever due to patients not being able to wait for NHS care.

Images used courtesy of Raymond Otto.

Why do you use Amber lithium disilicate and DB Lab Supplies?

I produced some Amber glass ceramic on the request of a customer. I quickly found out the benefits this material has to the technicians working with it. There is 1 block of material per shade but the firing cycle on the laboratory’s side predicts 4 different levels of opacity. From a milling point of view, this means that using this material reduces stock levels by at least half! Amber Mill possesses a more detailed edge definition, and increased bur yield over other products we have milled in the past.

Using Amber Mill significantly reduces the lab inventory for lithium disilicate.

You are extending your premises! Tell us a little more about that.

Geoff Halligan is heading the ever-expanding building project. We started with a small, tiled area which housed our first milling machine (PRIMACON Eco 3015) to now, after having extended our occupancy sideways, also building a new floor above the current premises. This is with a view to have a dedicated training- and conference-room separating the training facility from the every-day work. This huge undertaking is also to create some space downstairs for more machines!

Zfx Birmingham is growing and always a work-in-progress

What plans do you have for the future?

On the horizon at the moment is expanding the production side of the business by adding another Zfx Inhouse x5 machine and also a Primacon PFM 4024. We have been looking into inhouse laser sintering for quite some time so will be further exploring this possibility.

Raymond, tell us about yourself

Originally from South Africa, I have lived in England for 21 years. I am now married to Rachael who is originally from Sheffield and we have two amazing daughters. Before the life of dentistry, I achieved Comptia A+ Certification in IT but I have always had a great interest in dentistry from an early age due to my father being a dentist. I remember him making dentures after hours, late into the night, for some of his patients!

I eventually studied Dental Technology through De Montfort University. During that time, I was lucky enough to train with Geoff Halligan at his laboratory in Birmingham. I started as a metalworker and headed the CAD/CAM department. Geoff had a CAD room with 5 different scanners from different manufacturers. It was an incredible environment to work in and I count myself extremely fortunate.

Raymond’s wife Rachel, and their two daughters.

For more information about how Amber Mill can revolutionise your workflow and reduce inventory costs, contact the team at DB Lab Supplies via sales@dbortho.com or calling 01535 656999.

About DB Lab Supplies

It is our company mission to become a global leader in orthodontic and laboratory supplies. With over 45 years of experience, we recognise the importance of quality, service and innovation. Working to ISO13485 standards we strive for perfection in all that we do, from unique product design to the excellent service provided by our dedicated customer service and sales teams.

We are continually developing our product range, designing innovative products through consultation with leading industry experts throughout the world, to ensure that our products meet the high standards expected by today’s practitioners.

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