Press, print, mill - taking advantage of the best of all worlds
Exceptional function and esthetics in combination with state-of-the-art technology and professional communication are the hallmark of Schweizer Zahntechnik GmbH. The five-technician dental laboratory in Frickenhausen, Germany, is owned and managed by Bernd Schweizer. In this interview Mr Schweizer talks about his latest acquisition – a Programat IPS e.max Special Edition* from Ivoclar Vivadent – and other current topics related to the press technique.
Why did you decide to become a dental technician?
Bernd Schweizer: It’s quite an amusing story. From a young age, I was very interested in all things technical and in developing my fine motor skills. I always knew that I would like to do something creative and practice a craft. One day my father brought home a newspaper clipping which described dental lab technology as “the profession of the future”. Then I got the chance to do an internship in the laboratory of a dentist friend, and that’s when I realized I wanted to be a dental technician!
You recently bought a limited-edition Programat IPS e.max. What do you associate with the IPS e.max name? What does the name evoke in the dental industry in general?
Bernd Schweizer: I see the name as a title. I associate IPS e.max with experience, expertise and pioneering spirit. The material is highly reliable and has an excellent track record. I can depend on the product and I know that it is continuously being improved and further developed. The material is just as innovative as it was when it was first launched. When I use it in combination with the IPS e.max Ceram layering ceramic I am hardly ever disappointed.
That’s great to hear. When do you use IPS e.max Press?
Bernd Schweizer: We use it to create inlays, onlays, partial crowns, veneers and single anterior crowns. We have also made quite a few “tabletop” restorations lately. Some of my colleagues like to press the material on zirconium oxide frameworks.
You’ve been working with the new Programat EP 5010 furnace for several weeks now. How satisfied are you with the machine?
Bernd Schweizer: I’m very satisfied. The new features were easy to grasp. The firing and press results are superb and exceed my expectations: less shrinkage, enhanced translucency, etc. I have not had any problems with inferior press results. The infrared camera is a welcome feature. I use it very often. In addition, the possibility of creating customized programs and integrating the furnace into your network is great. I also like to use the fully automatic press function (FPF). It allows you to get on with other things.
How would you assess the significance of the press technique in the dental industry?
Bernd Schweizer: That’s a good question. I think that the press technique is an integral part of the dental industry. Every dental technician knows how to press and cast and can perform these tasks in their sleep. In my opinion, they are the two main techniques of the dental industry and they represent the basis from which all the subsequent technology has evolved.
By “subsequent technology” I assume that you are referring to digital technology. How are you preparing your lab for the future challenges facing your profession?
Bernd Schweizer: It’s quite straightforward: by fostering excellence in innovation, creativity and craftsmanship. I have been following the digital revolution in dental lab technology right from the beginning. I bought my first CAD/CAM machine seven years ago. I believe that as a small laboratory we are well-prepared for the future as a result of our exceptional skill and our expertise in using the latest technology. I’m of the opinion that dental technicians should be able to exercise their craft and not simply have to operate a computer. Dental technicians need to understand the craft involved in the creation of a crown before they can successfully produce the same type of restoration using digital technology. We are in a position to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of the press technique compared with CAD/CAM?
Bernd Schweizer: In contrast to the latest technologies, the press technique is tried and tested. Personally, I am very fond of the excellent translucency and the chameleon effect of pressed restorations. If the remaining tooth is in good condition, the restoration assumes the colour of the natural tooth structure. When a customer calls us to say that a pressed veneer looked absolutely amazing in a young patient, we are thrilled about this acknowledgement. Milled lithium disilicate restorations can provide a similar result. However, the investment costs of the milling equipment are much higher. In this case, the cost-effectiveness of the press technique plays a decisive role. Furthermore, the manual skill of the technician is an important aspect. The work of the dental technician is essentially a craft.
What is the future of the press technique?
Bernd Schweizer: I immediately think of veneers: There is a growing demand among young, esthetic-conscious individuals for anterior veneers. Inlays, onlays and partial crowns are also popular. As mentioned some of my colleagues like to use this technique to press ceramics onto zirconia frameworks.
Finally, I would like to talk to you about 3D printing. Is your lab equipped for it?
Bernd Schweizer: I have two 3D printers in my lab. We primarily use them to produce trays, model casts, base plates and templates: not in every case, but we are using them more and more often. New materials are continuously being introduced, and the applications of the machines are growing, which is enhancing their efficiency. I’m interested in using the printers to produce wax patterns for the press technique. This will help me to increase their efficiency and better utilize their capacity in the future.