• How do you move work more efficiently?

    Everyone is always seeking ways to move work through the laboratory more efficiently. Care to share?

    We have always been very concious of production standards, time in motion and scheduling timelines, but recently took a step further, and redesigned our lab to use Lean Manufacturing Practices. We have attempted to break things down into syncronized movements, limited numbers of tools and reducing work in progress. Of course there are all kinds of books on the subject, so it's pointless to try and cover it here, but so far, we have seen improvements in quality and consistency, more on-time delivery and fewer errors.

  • Anyone have sample business plans?

    Please share example business plans you know about here.

    Here is an old article I did for a magazine way back in 2000. It shares parts of our 1998 business plan. Many, many things have changed, and i kind of laughed at what I did 14 years ago, but it gives you a basic idea of who I look at business plans. Hope this helps.

    “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”

    Define the task with a business plan.

    Too many dental laboratories make business plans only when they have to. Unless a bank or investors want to look at a business plan, there isn’t likely to be a plan written at all. How much time...See more

  • How are white light scanners?

    Is anyone using a scanner with the white light technology? I am curious as to how they compare in accuracy to the laser scanners currently on the market.

    We have a Lava ST white light scanner, and it is currently sitting in our electrical room gathering dust. There is no doubt white light is more accurate than laser, but it's not anywhere as easy to use, calibrate or maintain as a 3Shape. In my eyes, it's just not worth the hassle.

    Is the added accuracy really worth it? Accuracy is a cumulative thing. One scanner is +_10um more than another. Then the mill is +_ 10um more than another. before you know it, you're up to 50um or more difference between another combination. Therefore, I prefer to use a system (or combination of systems) that is fast,...See more

  • Opinions on Outsourcing?

    Wondering what everyone's thoughts are on outsourcing in general

    Outsourcing doesn't add profit to the bottom line of any laboratory that does it. It simply lowers the average selling price of his own units and those of the labs around him. I see labs advertising for prices BELOW what I charged in 1981 when we opened this business. We fought for so many years to be treated as professionals. We have American ceramists that will beat the pants off many of the European Gurus that ruled the magazines and lectures for years. We have raised the bar, and lowered our prices. I guess people forget this is a business and not a hobby.

  • Impression Scanning Recommendations?

    Is anyone out there using impression scanning at their lab and how are the models coming out? Which system? Models printed or milled? Have you compared them to the same impression poured by your traditional method? Can anyone verify if it is really saving them time and/or money?

    Scanning impressions is a disaster in my opinion. There are too many places where the impression material is just wispy little fins of material that the scanner cannot see. Spraying it with reflectant only makes things worse, and the image is obliterated. If you want a digital impression, take one with an intraoral scanner. On the other hand, a Micro CT scanner takes beautiful scans of impressions which is why the Ortho CAD companies do it that way, but they are expensive, cumbersome, the files are huge and need conversion and segmenting to be manageable. Stick to analog model, poured from stone. My opinion anyway...

  • What's your opinion on industry regulations?

    A few more states are (most likely) on their way to imposing certain regulations on our industry - everything from disclosure statements on materials and their origin to reinstating the mandation of training and lab registration. Do you live in one of these states? What's your opinion? Curious to hear...

    Dental Laboratories have been under obligation to comply with FDA mandated Good Manufacturing Practices which require all of the things above. How many labs are currently DAMAS or ISO certified? Very few. Most lab owners simply ignore the laws and go about their business. If people ignore the Federal requirments, what makes you think State, County or even city regulations will have any effect? We made this mess ourselves. Now we get to sleep in it.

  • How are you lighting your porcelain dept. / ceramist benches?

    Ceramists and lab owners, we are using conventional 4' ballasts with daylight flourescents (3050 lumen output at 6500k temp) and it is not helping to translate proper shades in our restorations. What are you using in your porcelain department/ceramic benches?

    We are using color corrected bulbs in the range you are, but we augment by only using the operatory with northern light. Additionally, we take pictures with shade tabs and use the Vita Easy Shade. Between all of these things we get pretty close. I don't think only one, or even two of them alone will do the job. If you call the bulb manufacturer, they may have a local rep who can come to your lab with instruments and advice on choosing surface lighting..that's what we did, and the salesman can over to see us.

    One thing we did, was remove the flosted plastic lenses on the fixtures and replace them...See more

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