The press technique turns 30 – the beginnings of an esthetic revolution – Part 2
In Part 1 we talked about the beginnings of the press technique and how the pressable ceramic was developed in the laboratory and how the entire coordinated press system evolved. Part 2 recounts how our experts had to solve certain unexpected problems before the system could be fully launched. It furthermore describes the benefits offered by the press technique and how its success story is expected to continue in the future.
Unexpected challenges during the development of the press technique
A considerable part of the glass-ceramic development process involved overcoming the challenge of manufacturing the material on a large scale. “The material was easy to produce in basic glass rods, which we cast by hand in moulds in the laboratory. We were able to fabricate a sizeable quantity in very good quality relatively quickly, but only for use in our laboratory. However, we knew that in order to produce the ceramic on an industrial scale, for example, in 3-gram or 6-gram ingots, we would have to come up with a reliable industrial manufacturing process. This part of the development project actually cost us the most time”, recapitulates Marcel Schweiger. In order to supply the growing demand on the market, the advice of external glass technology experts was sought to help with the development of a suitable production plant. “Ultimately, however, we managed to establish a system that would meet our requirements with the expertise of our in-house production engineers.” The production lines for the manufacture of the ceramic, which were steadily expanded to meet the growing demand, eventually received the recognition of international glass associations. “The growth of the engineering expertise (of Ivoclar Vivadent) in production technology was greatly responsible for the success of the product.”
The production line then: The sintering furnace could only accommodate individual trays.
The production line today: The capacity has increased to accommodate 10 trays per furnace.
Green parts are automatically loaded on the trays.
"An esthetic revolution"
The next milestone in the history of the IPS e.max press technique was the market launch. George Tysowsky, Head of Global Training and Education / Senior Vice President Technology and Professional Relations North America at Ivoclar Vivadent has the following memory: “When our press technique was introduced, it really took off and created what we called the esthetic revolution.” By engaging the help of experts and users at an early stage of the development process, Ivoclar Vivadent was able to optimally meet the needs of its customers. The new fabrication method was based on the traditional metal casting process used by dental technicians and was made up of wax-up, investment and casting steps. Because the new technique piggybacked on a tried and trusted method, it was quickly accepted.
IPS e.max Press: its relevance today
In the development of IPS e.max Press, the team of Ivoclar Vivadent experts was able to fulfil the esthetic requirements of patients as well the needs of the product users. With the introduction of metal-free restorations, came the possibility of employing minimally invasive methods. Since very thin restorations could now be produced, only minimally invasive interventions would be needed, which meant that less natural tooth structure had to be removed. Thomas Hirt, CTO of Ivoclar Vivadent explains the material’s relevance today: “There is a trend towards minimally invasive treatments, in which as little tooth structure as possible is removed, and this is where “Press” still has a decisive edge over many other applications, since it allows you to produce very thin, nicely tapered restorations that blend in seamlessly”.
What next? What does the future hold for the press technique from Ivoclar Vivadent?
Thomas Hirt provides an outlook for the press technique: “I think that it is important for dental technicians to have a press workflow at their disposal which is connected to digital workflows. As is the case in most industries around the world, the dental industry is undergoing digital transformation, which will result in the simplification of many processes. Nevertheless, this new technology will not replace fine craftsmanship or eliminate the need for having a deep understanding of the nature of dental restorations. Therefore, dental technicians should take advantage of the benefits offered by digitalization, while at the same time developing their expertise and honing their skills. Digital transformation enables us to connect the press process to digital workflows. This gives us the opportunity to continue pressing restorations without being left out of new workflows. We have kept pace with modern developments and have made the press process much easier by integrating a 3D printer in the workflow. The press technique has a promising future. It offers the most economical means of fabricating the most beautiful and precise crowns.”
The demand for highly esthetic, metal-free restorations started to grow significantly in the 1980s, following the introduction of the first IPS Empress ingots. In the development of the successor system called IPS e.max Press, efforts focused not only on the needs of patients, but also on those of the users, the laboratory technicians. The press technique ushered in an esthetic revolution. The optimized interfaces of the system ensured efficiency and reduced the fabrication costs. The press technique offers the possibility of creating minimally invasive restorations. Patients benefit from the fact that only very little of their natural tooth structure has to be removed in order to make space for their restoration. Furthermore, they can be assured of the high strength and durability of the material, which has been confirmed in numerous clinical studies. Today, 30 years after its introduction, the press technique can look back on a history of success, which was marked by some initial challenges, and it can look forward to a promising future. Now, the digital transformation process will take the press technique from Ivoclar Vivadent to the next level. Connecting the press process to a digital workflow and introducing software support has shown how important consistent development and optimization is for Ivoclar Vivadent. Moving with the times is the only way in which the changing needs of dental technicians, dental practitioners and patients can be optimally fulfilled.