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31 Jul 2019 | eLABORATE

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Investing a significant amount in dental laboratory technology solutions

Thomas Hirt has held the position of Chief Technology Officer at Ivoclar Vivadent for close on six years. In this position, he is responsible for the development of new products. In this personal interview, he explains what kind of standards a product must fulfil for it to carry the label of "Ivoclar Vivadent" and why the company is doing such a lot of research in the field of dental laboratory technology.


Mr Hirt, Ivoclar Vivadent again presented many new products at IDS. What criteria must a product fulfil for it to fit in the company portfolio?

It has to be innovative and it has to offer our customers a real benefit. Furthermore, it has to enable our customers to produce aesthetic and predictable results in the shortest possible treatment or working time. We are specifically looking for products that will improve the work processes of dentist and dental technician and heighten their efficiency.

Efficiency seems to be the latest buzz-word in the industry. Is this true?

Absolutely. In our dealings with our customers the need for heightened efficiency comes up quite frequently. Dentists and dental technicians would like to achieve the best possible results in the shortest amount of time. Our task at Ivoclar Vivadent is to support them in their efforts by helping to increase their productivity without having to make any compromises on quality.

How do you do this?

We constantly analyse the workflows of dentists and dental technicians and we think about what kinds of product systems and equipment would allow them do their job faster and better. We ask ourselves how we can reduce the working steps or shorten the work processes. Furthermore, we try to establish how new materials would enable them to achieve more reliable and aesthetic results.

Is the ultimate goal to optimise the entire workflow?

Yes, that's correct. Top products are requisite to produce excellent results. Nevertheless, there are many more ways of improving work processes: for example, by providing fully integrated product systems and ensuring validated and reliable overall processes. Moreover, thorough documentation is essential and effective collaboration and communication between the dentist and the dental technician during the planning and execution phases of the restorative treatment is of immense importance. In this context, digital technologies are opening up myriad new possibilities and opportunities.

How important is continuing education at Ivoclar Vivadent?

It is very important and will increase in significance in the future. Only those people who know how to use our products and equipment effectively will be able to obtain the best possible results with them. Ivoclar Vivadent operates 31 training centres (International Centers for Dental Education) throughout the world with the aim of providing professional support for dentists and dental technicians. Furthermore, we invest a lot of time and effort into creating comprehensive instructions for use, operating manuals and user interfaces as well as growing our library of video tutorials.

How many new products do you work on in a year?

We release 12 to 25 products for sale every year. Approximately a third of these products are actual innovations. It takes us between one and eight years to develop a product.

How many of these products are designed for dentists and how many for dental technicians?

We work on a considerably more dental lab products than clinical products. As a result, we launch significantly more products in this segment. We also invest more money in developing products for labs. There is still a great deal of potential for developing and marketing new solutions for the dental laboratory.

Would you describe Ivoclar Vivadent as a technological pioneer?

Because our product range is very broad, it really depends on the category. We have very high standards with regard to quality, function and life span. When we introduce something new, we aim to offer the best or one of the best products in the category. Clearly, we cannot be a pioneer in all fields but I think that our innovative products place us among the best in offering unique solutions in many categories. Of course, this makes us very happy.


First published in dzw ZahnTechnik, Germany), Issue 1/2019, S. 18-19.

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