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Dynamic digitalisation: The laboratory of the future at IDS 2019

Cutting-edge dental digital technologies are ready to be showcased at this year's IDS. (Photograph: Koelnmesse)


Mon. 11. March 2019


COLOGNE, Germany: Digitalisation offers great possibilities for the dental laboratory: a wide selection of materials, high manufacturing flexibility and new methods for producing complete prostheses.

There are stable long-term trends and fast-paced ones when it comes to digital dental technologies, and dental technicians who combine these two profit the most. A visit to IDS 2019 will definitely help to gain a comprehensive overview and make unerring decisions with an eye to the future. A number of innovations in the area of digital technologies have made the processing of specific materials possible or economically attractive. Today, it is possible to manufacture crown and bridge frameworks that are made from zirconia, lithium disilicate, hybrid ceramics, high performance plastics, and alloys that either contain gold or are free of precious metals.

In terms of manufacturing choices, dental laboratories have become very flexible: they can decide whether to produce in-house or outsource tasks to laboratory partners or external industrial services. Today, even custom abutments can be manufactured in-house or ordered from an external manufacturer or supplier. Regarding fixed dentures, CAD/CAM systems have become well established in the past several years, and new possibilities in CAM of removable dentures are constantly being created. For instance, complete, duplicate and immediate prostheses can be manufactured in the dental laboratory by means of computer-supported procedures, allowing the dentist to continue performing the work tasks with which he or she is most familiar.

Just like prosthetics, orthodontics is considered to be a relative newcomer to the digital playground, compared with other dental fields. These days, dental laboratories contribute to dental treatments by providing virtual set-ups. In doing so, bracket positions can be set, for instance. Subsequently, the dental technician fabricates the respective appliance and creates the transfer tray by means of a 3-D printer. This procedure brings a wide variety of creative possibilities to the dental laboratory: occlusal splints, surgical guides, custom trays, orthodontic appliances or provisional crowns and bridges—virtually everything can be manufactured using 3-D printing technologies. If in accordance with the guidelines for Class IIa medical devices, the respective appliance can be used for printed short- and long-term provisionals. Furthermore, printed alloys, such as cobalt–chromium, give access to new applications such as digital model casting prostheses.

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