About aesthetical pinnacles & 3D Printers – an outlook on the future of dental technology

14. September, 2016

Part 2 of an intimate interview with Dipl.-Ing. Falko Noack, Head of the R&D department at Amann Girrbach, about his career, development projects, current challenges and future trends in dental technology.

What is currently the greatest challenge in dental technology?
Currently, the greatest challenge for dental labs is definitely – with the large number of digital systems, technologies and working methods – to maintain the overview and deciding on the correct individual concept that is suitable for the respective lab.

Which trends generally stand out at the moment
In my opinion, multi-indicative systems are the big trendsetters in CAD/CAM technology. The primary objective in this case is to be able to cover as many indications and materials as efficiently as possible with a single CAD/CAM system. The outcome of which leads to further developments in materials, indications and machines.

The trend in materials is increasingly toward monolithic materials with ever-decreasing time required for customisation.

Collaboration between dentist and technician is becoming increasingly dominated by the digital dialogue. The “virtual patient” is gaining ever greater importance, whether it involves analysis, planning, clarification or fabricating cases.

Which material do you think has not yet exhausted all possibilities and can be used in future for even more fields of application?
Zirconia! In the past few years we have already seen what is possible here with further developments in improving aesthetics and associated extended applicability, including for monolithic restorations. I believe the pinnacle of what is aesthetically possible with zirconia and thus the applicability has not yet been achieved.

How advanced and ready for series production do you think the use of 3D printing is in dental technology?
Up to now, the difficulty with 3D printing was in the comparatively low material diversity. In addition, the method could mainly only be used for fabricating indications that were not in the high-price segment, making investment in such a machine economically unviable in the majority of cases. The latest concepts on the market indicate, however, that development is also continuing here, the material diversity is greatly increasing and the acquisition costs for the systems have been reduced. I think that in general the technology is ready for series production for many applications, although it must be taken into consideration that not all commercially available systems produce identical quality. There are also significant differences in the handling. The technology for fabricating CrCo patterns, splints and dental laboratory models seems particularly suitable to me, as these indications can be fabricated with reduced material use or comparatively shorter machine times compared with milling.

Where do you see the greatest challenge faced by dental technology in future?
I think that mainly adaptation in terms of training and development of expertise associated with the technology shift to digital fabrication will be a great challenge for dental technology for some time. I regard this newly gained knowledge, however, as a very good opportunity for acquiring new customers and improving communication and information for operators and patients.

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