PFMs are still prevalent—for now: High-fusing porcelain systems are still the most popular system, with 85% of respondents having one in their laboratories, and PFM restorations making up, on average, 55% of their workloads. However, 40% of our participants report a decline in the use of their high-fusing ceramic over the past two years.
Also notable: now that titanium can be effectively milled, the use of titanium ceramic systems has doubled, from 8% to 15%.
Metal free is on the rise: More than 60% of survey participants report an increase in the use of IPS e.max pressable lithium disilicate in the past two years; almost 50% note an upsurge in their usage of zirconia layering ceramic.
The growing popularity of these systems as well as milled full contour zirconia restorations continues to erode the PFM market. In 2005, 83% of C&B restorations were metal based; now, that percentage is 55. See box at left for a historical look at the shift from metal-based to metal-free C&B workloads.
Interestingly, the prevalence of offering metal-free restorations does not vary much by laboratory size: respondents with up to five employees report that 43% of their C&B workload is metal free; for those with more than five employees, it's 50% of their workloads.
Laboratories work with multiple porcelain systems and manufacturers: The majority—66%—of respondents work with two or three ceramic systems in their laboratories. However, there seems to be a trend toward consolidation of inventories. The number of survey participants working with more than three systems has dropped 10%—from 37% to 27%—in three years.
Most laboratory owners are not loyal to one porcelain manufacturer: 80% buy from multiple manufacturers, a finding consistent with our past survey data.