Zahn Expo 2010 Day Two

23 10 2010

The energy level was sky high for the early start to the second and final day of Zahn Expo 2010 at the Marriott in Santa Clara, Calif., as keynote speaker Mark Murphy, DDS, took charge with an entertaining presentation about marketing labs in the ever more digital dental landscape. His presentation kicked off a day that moved from the hands on first day to a more conversational and educational focus.

Dr. Mark Murphy speaks during the Zahn Expo

Dr. Mark Murphy delivers his keynote presentation during the Zahn Expo 2010.

Dr. Murphy, who serves as lead faculty for Mercer Advisors and consults to dental labs with his own Funktional Consulting after a career in dental practice and then in management of the DTI dental lab group, explained that marketing as a digital lab is really not all that different from marketing a traditional lab.

“It’s about the relationship, that’s what you’ve got to own,” he said.

While he focused his presentation on the ways dental labs can work to provide better service and stronger connections to dental clients, Dr. Murphy explained that digital impression technology is approaching a tipping point, and labs need to be ready to handle work that begins digitally. But whether or not a lab is digital, lab owners need to make their decisions based on sound business principles rather than gut feelings or slashing prices to stay less expensive than the next guy.

Rather labs need to decide what type of service they want to provide, what type of customers they need to be serving and then they need to work hard for their existing dentist customers rather than always looking for new accounts. He provided concrete steps to strengthening relationships with clients and stressed the importance of showing dentists what goes on in the lab so they understand everything that goes on when they send out a case.

“The crown has to be good, but it’s not about the crown, it’s about the experience,” he said.

Sessions then split up and former DLP editor Pam Johnson spoke to a smaller, but still crowded room about trends moving through the dental lab industry and how they could impact labs. While things started slowly, and a bit dry with all the numbers and charts on her slides, the lecture opened up and turned into a freeflowing discussion about issues such as the need for more definition in the educational requirements for lab technicians, worldwide standards for dental lab work and the growing impact of offshore competition and digital workflows.

Attendees including DLP contributor Peter Pizzi, CDT posed questions and shared personal experiences of lab quality and technician education overseas, as well as discussed the ways their labs were doing some offshoring of their workload or competing with labs offering dentists cheaper offshore options while trying to keep everything in house. No conclusions may have been reached, but the discussion felt productive and comprehensive.

In a Saturday session titled “Removeable Prosthetics: Practical Fabrication Tips, Techniques, and Products.” Thomas Zaleske, AS, shared some of the tricks he’s learned in his more than 20 years of involvement in removable prosthetic technology.


Zaleske showed how to fabricate esthetic and functional products in a consistent and accurate manner. He explained and demonstared a number of products and techniques that attendees can now impleent quickly and easily into their removable laboratory mode .

Stating he hasn’t “had a remake in nine years,” Zaleske described basic steps and techniques to troubleshoot problems with heat cure acrylics and covered the benfits of some of his favorite products including a variety of Keystone Industries products.

Mark Jackson, RDT, co-owner of DAMAS certified Precision Ceramics  Laboratory, used his Saturday afternoon course to offer tips and advice on a number of topics to help give attendees a competitive edge.

The DAMAS (Dental Appliance Manufactures Audit Scheme), is a pre-packaged quality assurance system geared for the dental laboratory to help raise the standards within the industry.

He shared a detailed process that covers things like quality control and corrective action, calibrating equipment , product labeiling, customer complaints and even the identification of products and materials that work best with your laboratory.

Following these steps to form a “new partnership” and deliver consistent products, Jackson said, can help your laboratory gain a competitive edge.


Hands-on beginning to Zahn Expo 2010

22 10 2010

The hallways seemed quiet as the 19th annual Zahn Expo got underway Friday morning at the Marriott in Santa Clara, Calif., but the calm exterior was really covering a deep focus as attendees took part in a range of intimate hands-on sessions that provided the chance to put the latest materials, technologies and techniques to work.

A Day In the Life of a Digital Crown

Students work on digital designs while learning about the DDX digital file communication system during the Day in the Life of a Digital Crown course at the Zahn Expo 2010

While half-day and full-day sessions with notable educators covering a wide range of benchtop skills were available, the real highlight of the opening day was a session simply titled “The Life of a Digital Crown” which put attendees in front of a computer and set them to work from the very start of a digital CAD/CAM workflow. The session gave them the chance to try out equipment and systems including 3M ESPE’s Lava C.O.S. digital impression system, Dental Wings scanners and software, the envisionTEC HD DDP 3D printer, Wieland’s ZENOTEC T1 milling unit and E4D Technologies’ D4D milling unit .

During the course attendees also were introduced to the DDX platform for online communication between dentists and dental labs that is available as a stand alone web application, currently integrated into software from Dental Wings and soon to be a part of the next update to the Dentrix practice management software platform.

When learning about output options for digital cases, attendees heard about the ability to do more than just produce CAD/CAM copings and crowns. Systems such as the envisionTEC printer can be used to produce resin models, shapes for casting and soon will be capable of printing surgical guides, bite guards and eventually new glass ceramic composites that can be used for long-term provisionals. By the end of the day-long session, attendees had a good picture of Zahn’s various CAD/CAM workflows available today, and new features soon to arrive.

Other hands-on sessions provided opportunities to try ceramic systems from GC America and Pentron Ceramics, as well as courses on techniques and materials key to improved results with removable prosthetics. PFM sessions were presented in the afternoon, giving attendees the chance to learn about the latest techniques for achieving highly esthetic results when layering porcelain on top of metal copings.

After the day’s education came to a close, the exhibit hall became the main attraction with Zahn’s latest lab offerings on display alongside a range of materials, tools, supplies and furnishings from more than two dozen companies. Among the product launches was a novel approach to adding characterization to milled restorations from newly launched Hilla. The company’s Porcelain Appliqué adds instant detail to the edges of milled crowns by applying specially printed porcelain decals to the milled restorations to produce highly detailed results.

Day two of the event moves from hands-on to a lecture-based educational format with an early keynote on marketing digital laboratories from Dr. Mark Murphy. Check back tomorrow for a run down on the day’s events.