The DWX-50 dry milling machine works really well for us

Located in a quiet residential area within walking distance of Shin-Onomichi Station on the Shinkansen bullet train line, You-dental is a relatively large dental laboratory in this scenic city facing the Seto Inland Sea. Roland interviewed Ms. Chisaki Kawakami, a lab representative who has been helping the lab make the switch to digital. 

“Our lab, affiliated with our dental clinic, was founded in 1993 with four members and has now grown to 20 employees. We receive orders for zirconia milling from all over Japan,” says Kawakami.

She explains that the lab became interested in CAD/CAM systems early on and has been introducing them in stages since 1995. “In those days, the Internet was non-existent and we had a hard time finding information on digital production. We once introduced a CAD/CAM system based on a supplier’s recommendation, but we weren’t happy with their after-sales maintenance and support and we weren’t able to reap the full benefit of the system,” she said. At that point, the lab decided to perform only scanning in-house and to outsource the remaining processes to a milling center. So how did they hear about Roland’s DWX CAD/CAM milling system and what made them finally decide to introduce it in their lab?

“As I recall, our clinic director found the Roland DWX in a trade journal. Using a milling center inevitably involves longer lead times and greater costs, but the greatest impetus for bringing milling in-house was our mindset toward fostering the growth of our dental technicians. We wanted to create an environment in which CAD/CAM systems could be operated by everyone, rather than just a few experts.

“We were already using a scanner at that time, so choosing an open system was an important consideration for us. Given  our past experiences, after-sales service was a great concern. The thing we required above all was responsive and reliable  support if ever we encountered a problem. We went to see a laboratory that belonged to an acquaintance and after about a  month of exhaustive research and deliberation over which system to introduce, we decided on Roland,” said Kawakami.

 In-house Processing Rate Reaches 100% in Six Months, Accompanied by an Increase in Technicians’ Motivation

 So was it a steep learning curve from the system’s introduction to its full-scale operation? “It took about a month before we  learned to work confidently and consistently with the DWX. Our experience using other systems prior to this may have  given us an advantage since we didn’t have to learn from scratch. The operation of DWX is very simple. We are glad that it  doesn’t require a lot of technical proficiency.

“After the introduction of the DWX, I was happy to hear that our technicians had begun trying it out on their own. I had assumed that they might be concerned that their work was being replaced by machines. On the contrary, they understood that by utilizing the DWX milling system they could actually spend more of their time on preprocessing and finishing work,” she said.

For the technicians, who were usually silent during work hours, the CAD/CAM system also seems to function as a kind of communication enhancement tool. “I was even more pleased with our decision to purchase the DWX because I had never received praise from our technicians for introducing a machine,” noted Kawakami.

 Future Business Outlook

“Orders for milling zirconia, a material currently receiving a lot of attention, have doubled since the introduction of DWX, which we use exclusively for zirconia. I estimate that we deliver a monthly average of 300 crowns or so. At our lab, orders for zirconia milling have already exceeded those of metal bonding, so we feel the transition between materials is well under way. Compared with previous systems, this one is far more productive and has helped us to considerably enhance our overall efficiency. The DWX machine works really well for us,” said Kawakami.

While the lab now has a website that receives orders from across Japan, at present, the majority of their orders come from dentists’ referrals, or through word of mouth. “Rather than focusing on profits, we want more people to appreciate the benefits we can offer with reasonable prices and superb quality. That is our philosophy.”

Roland was impressed by the lab’s dedicated management team, which operates using state-of-the-art technology and with a focus on gaining the trust of their customers. (Interviewed in January 2014)

You-dental website: http://www.you-dental.jp/