Modern Porcelain Ovens Heat Up Production
They are nothing like they used to be
By Keith Miolen, CDT
In today’s dynamic market, the dental laboratory industry understands that if laboratories are not producing, they are not profitable. That is why the equipment must be dependable, precise, and consistent, which are the same qualities demanded by the laboratories’ clients. New technology incorporated into modern porcelain ovens has rendered a new level of dependability, producing more consistent firings and exceptional results.
Not only has today’s porcelain oven experienced advancements but many of the materials that it fires have improved as well. Porcelains continue to become more esthetic with better grain structure. Zirconia is being sintered faster than ever before and is gradually evolving in its appearance. Meanwhile, pressed ceramic materials have also changed along with the methods in which they can be pressed.
Ceramic firing ovens have been no exception to this positive progression of change. They must be more dependable, accurate, self-troubleshooting, easy to use, and adaptable to our ever-adapting industry. As we continue to witness progress in materials and how they are fired, today’s porcelain ovens are ready for the job and equipped to be programmed to take on future advancements. Modern firing ovens are not in any way comparable with those available just a short time ago. These new lines of porcelain ovens are equipped with technology introduced from other industries such as aerospace, computer, and communications. The advancements have helped the everyday porcelain oven in the dental laboratory change into a vital and more dependable staple of laboratory equipment.
New features of the 2015 lines include:
• Colored shade communicating through digital photography
• Internet access and USB ports for external device data transfers
• Touchscreen program control
• Self-troubleshooting capabilities
• External speaker port
• Multiple-language voice output
• Remote operation through Internet access
• Capable of allowing you to check emails
• Ergonomically designed to reduce bench space
• Multiple open programs for custom settings
These features are not only beyond the norm of ovens in the past but bring forth opportunities for today’s modern laboratory to utilize the common ceramic oven for many unusual uses such as communicating with clients and incorporating photography. Some even provide dual-purpose functions, allowing sintering and pressing cycles while still firing porcelains. See the sidebar for the new status quo in technology.
Out With the Old
Porcelain ovens of years past were effective but had many drawbacks such as inaccuracies in firing due to analog temperature settings. Typically, production speed would slow when troubleshooting had to be performed and then the problem had to be resolved manually through test firings. Other drawbacks of earlier-generation firing ovens were the bulky size and weight, and the need for constant calibration tests as a means of preventive maintenance. Multiple program expansion and pre-programed cycles were almost nonexistent.
In recent years, the dental laboratory industry has seen several manufacturers launch newer versions of their already dependable lines of porcelain firing ovens. The technology in the 2015 line is nothing short of remarkable and far beyond the expectations of most technicians. With features such as MP3 capabilities, external speakers, email, personal computer and Macintosh compatibility, digital photography for shade viewing, easy functioning via touchscreen, and icon useage, today’s porcelain ovens serve multiple roles.
This month, IDT’s TechEdge provides you with much-needed information so that when you are looking for a ceramic oven, you will choose one of many that will keep your laboratory producing, not troubleshooting and repairing. So fire with confidence.
The New Status Quo
Let’s look at the technology that is now being implemented as the new status quo for providing firing excellence. Automated features and power-saving technology help with production costs.
• An infrared camera to measure the temperature at the surface of the object in the firing chamber and automatically control of the pre-drying and closing parameters
• Automatic double-range temperature calibration, enabling the temperature to be checked in two different ranges to ensure high firing precision
• Color-coded to status displays and clearly structured menus, which contain modern icons
• Power-saving technology allowing the reduction of energy consumption in standby mode by up to 40%
• Specially developed opening and cooling processes, which prevent the formation of tension and cracks within the ceramic
• New heating muffle technology, which enables optimum firing results
• Consistent fires regardless of where the restoration is placed within the oven due to redesigned firing chambers to produce even heat distribution and cooling (Heating elements cover the entire firing chamber.)
• Smooth lift operations or pan-top models to eliminate vibration during pre-firing.
• Faster logic boards and processors for multiple program setting
• Quartz-lined muffles to reduce contamination
• Pre-programmed settings (based on the manufacturer)
• Redesigned firing chambers to produce even heat distribution and cooling (Heating elements cover the entire firing chamber.)
About the Author
Keith Miolen, CDT, is a 2012 NADL Pillar Scholarship Recipient.