For 10 years now, Amann Girrbach has been complementing its dental equipment portfolio with specially developed and manufactured zirconia blanks. Initially mainly for processing with analogue copy milling equipment, the company, based in Austria's province of Vorarlberg, today offers an impressive portfolio of blanks for manufacturing restorations using CAD/CAM. The range of Ceramill zirconia meets every aesthetic and functional demand, be it from classical white, via pre-stained or even polychrome with infinitely variable colour and translucence gradients. In time for its anniversary, Amann Girrbach moved its entire zirconia production to its new, state-of-the-art "DENTUSTRY ONE" production hall near its headquarters in 2017. To coincide with this, we met Falko Noack, Head of Applied Technology at Amann Girrbach and asked him about current developments.
Mr Noack, what does the move to your new DENTUSTRY ONE production site mean for zirconia production at Amann Girrbach?
With "DENTUSTRY ONE" we have no doubt built one of the most modern, advanced production centres for manufacturing dental zirconia blanks in the world. The move to the new production site has trebled the manufacturing area over our old facility and that helps us capacity-wise to meet the significantly increased demand for our zirconia products, assuring faster response and faster delivery to our customers in the future. Furthermore, the newly installed production equipment ensures that we can meet the increased complexity requirements in the manufacturing process of new products, such as tooth-coloured, pre-stained blanks with colour gradients while also maintaining our proven quality for these blanks.
How does Amann Girrbach guarantee consistently high quality in its zirconia blanks?
The quality of the blanks begins with the best raw materials and we work exclusively with the most renowned suppliers of zirconia raw material in the world. The production equipment used for manufacturing the blanks was conceived exclusively for manufacturing dental zirconia blanks and the corresponding processes were adapted accordingly. During the planning and development phase of blank production at Amann Girrbach, we worked backwards. Essentially, we knew the exact requirements and properties that we wanted to achieve in advance and could therefore conceive, develop and fine-tune the production processes and equipment as needed to achieve these requirements. Over 10 years of experience and know-how guarantees the consistently high quality of our materials.
Which properties characterise good zirconia for dentistry?
There are obviously regulated requirements from various standards for the material and sufficiently high strength and high biocompatibility are basic properties which must be fulfilled for a good medical device. These criteria are the basis, but far from everything that makes zirconia a good material for dental applications. It is also necessary to consider processing aspects such as edge stability, millability and abrasion behaviour in relation to milling tools. And for further processing, sintering properties such as sintering stability, resistance to warping and homogeneous, predictable shrinkage must be given. And last but not least, aesthetic properties such as colour shade and translucency increasingly play a major role for zirconia materials. In summary one can say: a good zirconia is given if both the mechanical and biological requirements, as well as the processing and aesthetic requirements, have been met.
How does Amann Girrbach differentiate itself from other zirconia material suppliers?
In materials development, Amann Girrbach follows an application-related approach. That means we don't focus solely on the material properties in development, but also consider the material as being part of an overall technical dental/medical process, where things have to work equally well for the dental technician and the clinician as well as for the patient. As we develop our own materials and our own equipment, we have complete control over the entire process and can make any adjustments necessary in the process chain to fine-tune the outcome. This holistic approach and the resulting benefits distinguish our products and materials from those of other suppliers.
At IDS in Cologne this year, you presented a new zirconia with the name Zolid HT+ among other things. What type of zirconia is this?
Ceramill Zolid HT+ is a highly translucent zirconia which combines high translucency with high mechanical strength. At over 1000MPa, the strength of Zolid HT+ lies in the range of the proven Ceramill Zolid HT zirconia, however, the light-optical properties surpass those of its predecessor considerably. For this reason, even massive structures such as large implant-supported bridges radiate the vitality of natural teeth. With an optimised manufacturing process, we are also able to positively influence milling strategies, resulting in extremely delicate margin design and offering exceptional edge stability at the same time.
What are Amann Girrbach's mid- and long-term objectives as a manufacturer of materials and zirconia?
We see ourselves as being an established supplier of materials. So in the mid and long-term, we see a clear focus on expanding on our know-how in this field. We will also continue to expand the existing portfolio in a sensible manner in the future and continue to optimally adapt these materials to the requirements of each individual dental application.