Mid-West Spring Technical Meeting 2011

8 04 2011

The Association of Indiana Dental Laboratories welcomed the industry to Indianapolis and treated them to a top flight selection of speakers and bustling exhibit hall during the annual Mid-West Spring Technical Meeting. The event put the educational focus on both the technical and business sides of running a lab, while also providing some vibrant discussions of the state of the dental laboratory industry and the value of certification of technicians and labs.

For the opening session a panel made up of Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology Chair R.J. DeLapa, CDT; NADL Executive Director Bennett Napier; financial advisor Chuck Yenkner; and Mark Jackson, RDT, from Precision Ceramics Dental Laboratory. DeLapa opened by discussing the Foundation’s efforts to create more educational opportunities in the industry. Next up Jackson explained how identifying failures and fixing their causes has been a key to his lab’s success, and if the DAMAS processes he uses were more widely adopted could help the industry to thrive. Napier then laid out some statistics about the industry including the fact that 60% of the 10,000 American dental labs are single technician operations. Finally Yenkner said that technology, worldwide competition and the current economic environment are the biggest change agents moving through the industry. The session then turned into an open discussion with questions about how technicians can increase the value and return on earning and maintaining a CDT certification. Napier said dentists are starting to understand the value in of working with a certified technician, but they largely still do not understand that certification is not required before someone can work as a technician. Yenkner added that there is value in the knowledge gained through formal training and education and it will help technicians remain valuable as the industry continued to change.

“You get paid more for what’s in your head than what you can do with your hands,” he said.

Throughout the morning and the afternoon sessions, attendees had the chance to hear presentations on CAD/CAM, dentures, lab management and technician training. The intimate settings for most of the presentations gave the sessions a somewhat informal feeling, and allowed the presenters to interact with the audiences to create some dynamic discussions. Yenkner used his time really explain the details of tracking production costs, Jackson explained his lab’s inspiration for adopting Good Manufacturer Practices and the benefits they have brought back, and DLP Benchtop Editor Tom Zaleske examined a variety of ways to add value and precision to denture cases. A mid-day fiesta theme brought some extra life to the exhibit hall and the evening wine and cheese reception also made it easy to get lost in conversation throughout the room. The truly showcased the connections between the people in the lab industry and provided a great forum for more of those connections to be forged.

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