Dental entrepreneur and principal of Stoneglass Laboratories, George Sara, has launched a new CAD/CAM milling facility using equipment and technology that he developed in his dental lab in the Sydney suburb of Burwood.
"The Glacier System is the culmination of years of work and millions of dollars to develop a product that is perfectly suited to the requirements of the contemporary dental laboratory," Mr Sara said. "Glacier will make cost-effective copings, bridges, abutments and more in isostatically pressed white or coloured Zirconia so that every technician will be able to offer their dentist clients the latest in CAD/CAM without the capital investment in equipment and human resources."
Mr Sara was an early adopter of CAD/CAM in his own laboratory, using off-the-shelf systems initially before exploring his options for building a system of his own in 2001.
"As a dental technician, I could see the opportunities that CAD/CAM presents and what the ideal system should be able to deliver. I assembled a diverse team of professionals including dentists, dental technicians, medical engineers, software engineers, ceramic specialists and machining experts to develop a true commercially scalable milling operation. Glacier is the result of this quest."
The Glacier system uses commercially available industrial CNC milling machines that each mill 11 blocks of Zirconia concurrently. The initial milling centre in Burwood has two machines with 60,000+ units a year capacity and there are plans for larger premises and even more capacity. The design software was developed in conjunction with 3Shape, experts in digital shape sampling and processing software. The sintering furnace was also custom manufactured to the required specification.
The Glacier operating model is one that is familiar to labs already. A commercially available laser imaging 3D scanner is purchased and resides in the laboratory. The scanner creates highly accurate 3D scans of dies/stumps, inlay preparations, bridge preparations, bites/antagonists, wax-ups, full dental casts and superstructures. The Windows-based modelling software provided is then used to design the job. Once complete, the job is sent to the Glacier milling centre via the internet.
The job is then milled to the specification provided, sintered, optically checked for quality using fibre optic light and a microscope and finally dispatched back to the lab in a protective container complete with a computerised print-out verifying the firing cycle. Turnaround time is guaranteed at three business days from scan to delivery.
Glacier will currently mill single copings; cantilever bridges; 3-6 unit bridges; bridges with a rest seat; Maryland bridges; cylinder-type implant hexed abutments; custom implant hexed abutments; and custom implant temporary crowns and bridges.
"The operational model we are using has already proven popular with dental labs however the combined versatility, cost-effectiveness and turnaround time of Glacier will take the process to a new level. Essentially, a ceramist with the scanner can order a single-unit coloured Ziroconia crown coping for $85 and have it back in their lab in just three days."
Mr Sara said that leading up to the official launch of the system on July 17, more than 3000 units had already been ordered by Omega Ceramics and Noble Ceramics as well as his own Stoneglass Laboratories.
"Russell Young at Omega is very pleased with the results he has been able to achieve with the Glacier copings," Mr Sara said. "The coloured Zirconia, in particular, gives crowns a warm, natural glow from within which allows outstanding aesthetics to be achieved.
"This is essentially the fundamental goal we have for the Glacier project. We want to provide dental technicians with the very best foundation to build on without having to invest in the equipment and expertise to run a milling unit. In essence, we give you the freedom to create."