Veteran Ceramist Maintains High Standards for Milling Centers
Technicians and customers both appreciate Zirlux 16+ for its strength, esthetics, and ease of use
Before becoming the Milling Center Manager for Custom Automated Prosthetics (CAP) approximately 4 years ago, Pam Hanneman ran the ceramics department for a large chain of laboratories. While the positions might sound different, in many ways Hanneman has found them to be similar.
“Traditional dental technology knowledge and skills are still extremely important in a milling center,” Hanneman says. “Some people think technology means simply sitting at a computer, pressing a button, and a crown pops out. That is not true. We use different tools, but the knowledge of teeth, morphology, function, etc, remains extremely important.”
So when Zahn Dental acquired CAP last year and asked Hanneman to test and develop protocols for Zirlux 16+ zirconia, she approached the task with the lofty standards of an experienced ceramist.
“I developed a shading technique for the Zirlux 16+ white disc, and I learned that it is a great product,” she says. “The 1200-MPa strength means it is strong enough to use for any restoration type from single-unit to a large-span bridge, but it also features a high level of translucency. It is one of the more vital-looking zirconia options available. Being one of the more translucent materials in the 1200-MPa category for super-translucent zirconia and still achieving that level of vitality is a huge benefit. Also, it comes in pre-shaded and white, which allows the freedom of either shading in the laboratory or utilizing the consistency of the pre-shaded disc.”
As Zahn has integrated CAP’s milling center with Custom Milling Center (CMC), the milling centers have used Zirlux 16+ extensively. The response has been positive from both their own technicians and laboratory customers.
“Our technicians immediately noticed a difference in the ease of staining and glazing this zirconia,” she says. “The incisal was much more natural, which is very important to technicians. It is much easier to simply darken the gingival a bit than to try to fake on an incisal with blue and white stains, which is important to dentists and patients as well. Our customers gave feedback almost immediately that the restorations looked much more vital.”
When customers ask for advice regarding materials, Hanneman says, she never recommends one product immediately. Inevitably, however, Zirlux 16+ frequently ends up being a strong option.
“I ask each customer about his or her needs and preferences,” she says. “There are many fantastic zirconia products on the market. If you are looking for one zirconia that will cover all bases, however, Zirlux 16+ is ideal because it offers both translucency and strength. For larger laboratories, the pre-shaded discs do not require shading. For higher-end, smaller laboratories that want to customize each unit, the shading process is very easy. Also, the sintering cycle is approximately 7 hours, as opposed to some that are 12.”
Hanneman often provides laboratories with education on Zirlux if needed. She assists them with the entire process—from green-state shading techniques, to proper sintering, to glazing.
“If you are going to evaluate a product, then it needs to be sintered properly,” she says. “I make sure they are handling the product appropriately so they can see what it truly looks like, and that they are comfortable staining and glazing it.”
The Zirlux FC2 characterization kit often helps, she adds.
“That is an amazing stain-and-glaze kit that works fantastically with Zirlux 16+, and most technicians fall in love with it as soon as they use it,” Hanneman says. “The colors are very intense, and it’s easy to use. You can glaze a crown in one firing and it’s beautiful.”
The ease of use and efficiency also fit well into the other part of Hanneman’s job currently, which is helping to align CAP’s milling center with CMC so that both can soon operate as one. Both milling centers excel in certain areas; for example, CMC has developed a method of milling its screw-retained Pearl bridges efficiently while producing exceptional esthetics, and CAP has developed a reputation as an industry standard for lean manufacturing principles and education.
“We want to combine those so that we can function as one milling center and have the same high standards in each location,” Hanneman says.
Using Zirlux 16+ in both locations helps achieve the goals of efficiency and quality.
“It is just a very easy product to use, and that is very important right now in our industry as we try to work very efficiently and productively while maintaining high quality,” Hanneman says. “Zirlux 16+ goes through the laboratory smoothly, and the end result is still exceptional esthetics.”
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