In February 2012, Lakeland Dental Technologies in Grand Rapids, MN, became one of the first labs, excluding beta testers, to install the complete Jensen Digital Solution which includes the Jensen STII Scanner, Lava™ Design 7 Software, Jensen Mill and DEKEMA Austromat baSiC® Sintering Furnace.
The 13-person, full service, family-owned lab has had a CAD/CAM system since 2005 so some of its all-ceramic work was done digitally but most of its processes were still conventional. Initially, Eric Sjodin, Vice President and Head of the C&B department, had planned to purchase only a new scanner (specifically the Lava STI), continue using his existing CAD/CAM system and keep outsourcing the more complex cases to a Lava Milling Center as a way to increase capacity and streamline workflow. However, when he compared the cost of purchasing the scanner and outsourcing versus buying Jensen's Digital Solution, he quickly changed his mind.
The complete system was only $16,000 more than he originally intended to spend on the scanner but he saves $1,500 to $3,000 per month on outsourcing costs. "When I realized I could pay off the system within a year, it was an easy decision," says Sjodin. "Plus we acquired an improved sintering furnace, a CNC mill and upgraded to Jensen's scanner."
Eager to ramp up the lab's digital production, Sjodin met with his staff and explained the lab was implementing a new way of doing things and restructuring its workflow. "Together we aimed to eliminate hand waxing and now, less than a year later, 99% of our C&B work is scanned and designed with the STII scanner, milled out of Jensen wax and either pressed or cast. Our consistency has improved and we've reduced our remake factor," says Sjodin.
Thanks to the accuracy of the scanner, scanning instead of waxing has also reduced the number of labor hours. The fixed department has five technicians and is now producing 1.5 units more per day and working one-half day less per week. No technicians have been laid off but their responsibilities have shifted, from waxing and investing to digital functions. Sjodin expects productivity levels to increase even more now that the learning curve has peaked and the staff is familiar with the system.
While most of the milling is done in house, the lab still outsources complex anterior bridgework that requires a 5-axis mill. Overall, its internal workflow has been streamlined. Also, the lab's all-ceramic work has increased from 15% of its total caseload to 35% in the past year with most of the increase being posterior units. In addition to high alloy costs driving the all-ceramic market, Sjodin feels the transition to full contour has been simplified because he can design and mill Lava™ Plus zirconia with the Jensen system.
"We now have an esthetic and basically bulletproof posterior offering that can be used in what was previously an unsuitable indication for all-porcelain crowns," says Sjodin. "The esthetics and fit are predictable and the material doesn't need demanding preps that previously made doctors resistant to all-ceramics. Digital is really hitting its stride right now and I'm more excited about CAD/CAM as well as in-house production than I ever thought I could be. This industry is rapidly evolving and I feel we're ready to make the most of it."
A Look at the Jensen Digital Solution
Jensen provides a full suite of digital equipment and software that is 3M ESPE Lava™ materials approved. Its digital solution is an integrated, easy-to-implement system designed for small, medium and large laboratories. See photos below for a look at the components and fabrication steps: