"Innovation and discovery is our way of life. It's in our DNA," Mark Farmer, 3M ESPE's global marketing and business director, told representatives from laboratory and dental publications during a recent media event at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN.
Throughout a series of workshops and a tour of 3M's World of Innovation—a showcase of more than 40 core technology platforms used to develop 3M's 60,000 products—it quickly became clear that the entire culture at 3M revolves around the pursuit of innovation.
For example, to inspire creativity, employees are encouraged to work across their own platforms to make discoveries. Forums are held during which those who perform the same job function—technology, sales, marketing, etc.— in different divisions of the company come together to discuss ideas and strategies. An annual company-wide "Science Fair" lets R&D staff members share their latest visions with the company at large.
With 6,500 R&D employees in 30 countries around the world, 3M certainly has the resources to support innovation. But innovation alone is not enough, 3M ESPE's Keith Haig told the media group. "We remain committed to not bringing a product to market until it does exactly what we say it will every time," said Haig, marketing and professional relations operations manager.
Expanding the digital workflow
During the two-day event, members of the press were given an opportunity to learn directly from product managers through presentations and hands-on workshops. The Digital Workflow/Laboratory Solutions program emphasized Lava™ Precision Solutions. "Lava used to be just a restoration, but now it's a complete digital process," said Chad Naughton, marketing communications supervisor for Lava C.O.S. The presentation covered recent developments in the Lava digital workflow:
• After a regional rollout in 2008, the Lava Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S. became available to dentists nationwide in July. The only video capture system on the market, C.O.S's newly upgraded software has been reported to make scanning 50% faster, capturing a full arch in under two minutes. In addition, the Lava C.O.S business model allows any lab to participate in the digital workflow by outsourcing the margin-marking to a Lava C.O.S.-certified laboratory.
• Upgraded Lava Design software 5.0 lets labs design a full contour crown with automatic cutback for optimal coping thickness and porcelain support; it also allows the design of wax patterns for monolithic all-ceramic, full-cast gold and PFM restorations. Both the Lava™ Form Milling System and Lava™ CNC 500 Milling Machine can be used for wax milling. For wax/resin printing, the InVision® DP 3-D Modeler and ProJet™ DP 3000 Production System from 3D Systems and the envisionTEC DDP™ from Zahn Dental can be used.
• Lava Zirconia is now indicated for custom-designed implant abutments. To create the abutment, Lava Zirconia is cemented to a pre-fabricated titanium abutment interface; the metal-to-metal connection between the screw and abutment means the screw doesn't torque directly into the zirconia. The abutments come in the same eight shades as Lava crowns and are compatible with a variety of implant systems.
• Coming at the end of this year is the Lava Digital Veneering System, which allows the user to design a full contour restoration and then split the file to mill the full contour out of a new glass ceramic porcelain block and the coping out of zirconia; the two are then fused together with Lava DVS Fusion Porcelain.
Implants and more
Product managers and members of the 3M ESPE marketing team also shared these developments during the media event:
• 3M entered the implant market with its 2008 purchase of IMTEC, a leader in small diameter implants. IMTEC's MDI implants don't require the typical surgical flap and feature an economical, simplified restorative solution.
• 3M ESPE Preventive Care division unveiled its Preventive Measures Risk Assessment and Management Program, which provides tools to assist dental offices in the proper assessment, prevention and care for patients with caries.
• A look at some of 3M's newest and most tried-and-true products for dentists: Filtek™ Supreme Plus Universal Restorative, Protemp™ Plus Temporization Material, Adper™ Easy Bond Self-Etch Adhesive, Impregum™ Soft Polyether Tray Impression Material and Clinpro™ 5000 1.1% Sodium Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste.
• A continued commitment to education, including 1,000 face-to-face seminars in 2008 and its Espertise interactive learning website www.3MESPE.com/espertiselearning, featuring on-line CE classes, a multi-media training library and educational webcasts.