Industry Q&A

  • 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.

  • Should I take on outsourcing work?

    An outsource lab calls me up and wants to send me some work...Do I... A) Bring it. Cant say no to money coming in. B) Do it, i'm flattered they thought about using my work and this can help pay some supply costs. C) Do it for a bit and only take the units I want. D) No, My business is built...

    I'll buck the trend and say "D". If you truly are quality, and have a known reputation, I say build upon that and set yourself apart from others. Gain even more education , i.e.Lab Day :-) hands on courses, and most of all become indispensable to your nearby accounts, as in custom shades, evaluating your work in the mouth, understanding cements, bonding etc. to be a resource for them.

    On the other hand, if you are hurting for work, what the others here are suggesting are good points.

  • 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...

    My laboratory is in one of these states. Thanks to the Florida Dental Laboratory and Florida Dental Associations collaborations, the industry has 'Changes'. When the law took effect and much was published about it, my lab recieved several calls from Dental offices about it, which was alarming. (flyers were being sent to them) The changes are nothing new to my lab, as we have always disclosed our materials, been registered and attend business and technical clinics each year and made sure our Rx's were signed. The bottom line is that it might seem that your Dental Association is doing you a favor...See more

  • Should I take on outsourcing work?

    An outsource lab calls me up and wants to send me some work...Do I... A) Bring it. Cant say no to money coming in. B) Do it, i'm flattered they thought about using my work and this can help pay some supply costs. C) Do it for a bit and only take the units I want. D) No, My business is built...

    Business is business Joey. We can't change basic economics and to turn down sales for any reason other than profit and loss is not sound logic.

  • What are your CAD/CAM suggestions for small labs?

    I am looking to buy a scanner but not sure about the software yearly fee. I looked into the D500 3Shape and 7S Dental Wings. A friend just told me about Identica from Medit blue light.

    Hi there - we're a 6 person lab in Missouri - bought a 3shape last november.  The best thing we ever did! We looked at alot of other systems, but kept coming back to 3shape.  .  We also had asked around and wanted to know who provided the best training (we bought ours through Dentsply). It has cut down on production time for us like crazy. We are doing alot of Bruxzirs with it.  Love it!

    — tagged 3 products3Shape Dental System™
    3Shape, Inc.
    CAD/CAM

  • 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

  • Lab Invoicing / Management Software Recommendations?

    We're looking for lab invoicing program software for smaller full service lab. Any suggestions?

    I highly recommend the Evident Lab Management Software.

    — tagged Evident Lab Management Software and Evident Management System

  • Which ingots do you prefer for Emax?

    We mostly use LT, but have found that others are using mostly HT. Which do you use and when?

    I'm partial to the LT. Most of the dentists I work for prefer it too...They say the HT seems too gray for their liking.

  • A Lab / Dental Office Partnership?

    A dentist-friend has asked me to open a dental lab in her practice. She will be providing the material and equipment and I will be able to get outside clients. What percentage of my revenue do I give her? Do I do her work for free?

    Sounds to me like you need to sit down with her and work out a fee schedule for both her and the outside customers. Expectations need to be expressed on both sides and decisions need to be made as to whether it is worthwhile or not. She wants a discount but a discount from what price? Does she have an expectations for priority handling of cases over outside customers and will that interfere with your capacity to generate business? Do you have the capacity to make a good living from this business? In my experience, even in-house labs work best in an "arms length" environment. If you end up having...See more

  • How does inCoris TZI compare to e.max CAD?

    Since our last discussion on zirconia, I've been told during a Cerec SW4.0 presentation that inCoris TZI is less abrasive than e.max CAD. What are your views on this?

    Margot, the studies are absolutely right full count our Zr is lees wears natural enamel lees than Zr, but don't forget if your Dr. Makes any occulsal adjustments; which is always the case, unless you make it out of occulusion but then there goes ur cusp to fossau or marginal ridge and teeth are mobile unless they are in contact... Which will cause long term damage or discomfort to the Patient if it is out of occ. remember Zr is much more time consuming to adjust and polish down smoothly so that is why I fear full contour Zr. Is not suitable unless it's in perfect occ/contacts.
    I still would like...See more

  • Which ingots do you prefer for Emax?

    We mostly use LT, but have found that others are using mostly HT. Which do you use and when?

    I would say broaden your horizon. Emax offers so many ingot types that its too hard to say in general. But I can say that HT ingots are good for posterior stain technique, but if the wax up is too thick, it will be too gray. You can also use Value ingots in these situations. LT ingots are good for copings, but I find value ingots to work slightly better if you have good build up control. Hope this helps.

  • A Lab / Dental Office Partnership?

    A dentist-friend has asked me to open a dental lab in her practice. She will be providing the material and equipment and I will be able to get outside clients. What percentage of my revenue do I give her? Do I do her work for free?

    I had a great experience as an independent lab leasing space from an account. If your going to be independent, set a price for leasing space, equipment, and utilities. You should buy your own materials, or you'll be giving the landlord a piece or you outside work also. Be conservative in your lease pricing. The major benefit for the home account comes with all the extras you'll bring to the practice. Shading, appointment adjustments, never putting in a crown or bridge that is not glazed after adjustment, consultation, and about 50 other things you'll do at no charge!

  • A Lab / Dental Office Partnership?

    A dentist-friend has asked me to open a dental lab in her practice. She will be providing the material and equipment and I will be able to get outside clients. What percentage of my revenue do I give her? Do I do her work for free?

    There is a danger and a benefit to this situation because its a friend whos offering this opportunity. The most common problem I have seen as a consultant is the Dr requiring more attention than you initially expect. I would make sure you have a contract - Ideally one where you define it as a lease of space and equipment (and maintence), No restrictions on outside clients as well. Also i would take your fee schedule and evaluate the savings on shipping, remakes and adjustments - Drs always love asking tech to adjust or polish every little thing. Best of luck and let us know what you decided?

  • What is the Best Way to Make An Emax Inlay?

    How do the big labs produce Emax inlays for 69 dollars, if the ingots alone already cost 20 dollars?

    Because I can fit 4-5 inlays into one pressing with a small ingot, then my ingot price is down to $4 or $5 per unit.  Not rocket science, but because they have so much volume coming in it is much easier to maximize their ingot usage, along with all the other material costs associated with it.

  • We've done our best to order smaller lots and send in scrap more frequently to minimize our exposure and risk to price fluctuations. With the price setting on the second London fix, we order alloy only on days the market is "up" and delay orders when the market is "down" and allow the lower price to "fix" at the lower rate. Since we "flat fee" our metal-based crowns, we monitor the markets very closely and adjust our fees in $5 increments. Mostly however, we use pricing strategies to steer our dentists to more profitable monolithic restorations such as e.max Press or full zirconia. Its our goal...See more

  • What's your competitive advance advantage vs. your competitors?

    How are you managing your competitive advantage (differential) versus your competitors? what are you doing to increase your CA as we start to move in 2012?

    Competitive advantage is a function of strategy that puts the firm in a better position than its rivals to create economic value for its customers â€" Bruce Henderson

    Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value - Porter

  • What is the Best Way to Make An Emax Inlay?

    How do the big labs produce Emax inlays for 69 dollars, if the ingots alone already cost 20 dollars?

    The only way I know to accurately finish an emax inlay is to:


    1) Wax up inlay over a lubricated die with die spacer, make a sharpened sprue connected to the inside of your wax up


    2) Invest with a ratio allowing for a slightly looser fit than your crowns


    3) Carefully devest and fit using a fit marker


    4) Adjust margins with a silicone, fit, adjust contacts, smoothen with silicone


    5) Glaze and stain

  • Zirconia staining tips?

    Just wondering what everyone else is using for their zirconia staining... we've been using the Tanaka system, and it doesn't seem to give us very consistent results. Does anyone have any tips for using Tanaka stains, or have a better stain suggestion?

    what seem to be the problem? I use Tanaka and works great

  • Should I take on outsourcing work?

    An outsource lab calls me up and wants to send me some work...Do I... A) Bring it. Cant say no to money coming in. B) Do it, i'm flattered they thought about using my work and this can help pay some supply costs. C) Do it for a bit and only take the units I want. D) No, My business is built...

    Justify it as helping the world. Artists have traditionally starved!

  • 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.

  • Opinions on Outsourcing?

    Wondering what everyone's thoughts are on outsourcing in general

    Sesitive question to many,I personaly like my things made around my neighbourhood with people that I can forge a personal realationship perhaphs friendship that can be more valuable than making money.Big production labs loves this Idea ,I always hated WALLMART!

  • Opinions on Outsourcing?

    Wondering what everyone's thoughts are on outsourcing in general

    i dnt mind outsourcing ... as its low cost ...and if you have volume .. thn y not???

  • Advice to Prevent Zirconia Bridge Warpage?

    Anyone have any advice on zirconia bridge frameworks "warping"? Hardly ever happens with frameworks with no curve, but seems to be more frequent with 4 unit and larger frames that curve (anterior). Individual units fit terrific internally and marginally, but 2-3 out of 10 times the frames will rock slightly....

    When sintering try leaving the sprue and base on and raise the tempture in 5 degrees per minuete but it varies based on furnaces.

  • I find laboratories split on this issue. The one’s who offered a fixed price product in the past, find themselves forced to change that model to accommodate the ever changing alloy prices and stay profitable, while others who offered their products at labor plus alloy cost in the past, are turning to fixed pricing to attract those dentists who are accustomed to it. Many labs are marking up the products at far less than 25% profit margin, while others are just passing the cost through to their dentists. I find it interesting that laboratories are calling their customers with a price quote for...See more

  • Should I take on outsourcing work?

    An outsource lab calls me up and wants to send me some work...Do I... A) Bring it. Cant say no to money coming in. B) Do it, i'm flattered they thought about using my work and this can help pay some supply costs. C) Do it for a bit and only take the units I want. D) No, My business is built...

    If you don't..........send them my way;) Does that answer your question? Dude, 10 years ago my answer may be different, but in today's economy, I NEVER turn down work unless it's not profitable. Look at the latest LMT cover/chart. Do you want to be the 31% or the 41%? HOWEVER, all of our situations are different. But I am learning as a "younger" business owner, my lab can not be ran how my dads generation ran their labs. There is an unquestionable lack of loyalty more than ever before BECAUSE of the economy. But everyone is different. Some people NEED to work because they're hungry, and some WANT...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

  • 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?

    Joe : I used lamps from Duro-Test with a CRI (color rendition index ) of 94. You should look for lamps as close to CRI 100 as possible (CRI 100= sunlight). It should also be noted that lamps lose lumins through use so don't wait for them to burn out, they should be replaced yearly , working or not. Also I was advised not to use diffusers (grills ) of any kind.
    Hope this helps.

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