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Metal meets Medical at the METAV 2012: dental technology demands zero-defects production
Frankfurt am Main, 24 November 2011. – “Fundamentally, dental milling machines are no different from normal CNC milling machines”, says Dr.-Ing. Michael Kreis, who heads Datron AG’s technology centre in Mühltal-Traisa near Darmstadt. The METAV 2012 in Düsseldorf will be showcasing the entire spectrum of equipment involved. At the “Metal meets Medical” special show, vendors of machines, tools, metrological instruments and software will be showing that the dental process chain is alive and kicking.
Manufacturing dental prostheses is a highly sophisticated form of individualised mass production. “In Germany alone”, estimates Datron’s expert Dr.-Ing. Michael Kreis, “more than 20 million crowns were manufactured in 2010. That means 20 million customised workpieces, since hardly any two teeth are identical.” To enable this diversity of shapes and materials to be manufactured cost-efficiently in a dependable process, users have to be guaranteed zero-defects production from the very first run.
If you “want to tackle a market like medical kit or dental technology properly”, says Michael Kreis, “then you can’t do it just as a sideline”. This is why in 2008/2009 the firm decided to develop a dental machine specifically tailored to the market’s needs. Datron had always been “pretty broadly diversified”, and was already at home in many different markets: CNC machining in the electronics and plastics industries, from aerospace and automotive applications all the way through to medical technology. On the basis of this sectoral knowledge, the requirements of the dental market were now analysed, and factored into the development work for the Datron D5 dental milling machine. By March 2011, the innovation was already being showcased at the world’s biggest dental trade fair in Cologne.
The control software used is based on the field-proven control system for the existing CNC machines. The special modifications include an operator interface responsively tailored to a dental laboratory’s needs, creating a maximally simple and user-friendly display concept: “There is neither a mouse nor a keyboard, just a touchpad.”
Open systems in a complete process chain
Most of the traditional CAD/CAM solutions used for dental technology were closed systems. The market, however, is increasingly insistent on open systems, although these are more difficult for users to master. “This is why”, explains Michael Kreis, “we are offering the entire process chain involved: from the scanner, the CAD/CAM software, the machine, the tools, all the way through to the material being used, though this comes from cooperating partners”.
The enduring fundamental precondition involved is that despite all the complexity and technical refinements the machine must still be so easy to operate that even an employee unfamiliar with the field can run a dependable process on it – and this with what are sometimes highly complex workpieces like implant-supported full-brace bridges, which have to be machined with maximised precision into the bargain. The sheer diversity of the machining operations required is a bit challenging even for CNC experts.
Against this background, the task of designing the operator control interface so that the amount of information is reduced to what a dental technician without any CNC experience really has to know, borders on a balancing act. CNC professionals, of course, will presumptively find some information lacking (which tool is currently in the spindle, spindle rpm, ongoing feed rate, distance-to-go, etc.). But after some brief training a dental technician will be very well familiarised with all the relevant functionalities even if he is a total beginner when it comes to CNC.
“In the case of our process chain”, explains Michael Kreis, “the data are streamed from the CAM computer via a network directly onto the machine, which then finds this job in its job library”. This means the user gets detailed information on whether the supply status at the machine is assured (tools, coolants, workpieces), and only when all the lights are green there can he actually start the job concerned – and this in hidden time. This means you can be milling one particular job and simultaneously be managing additional jobs at the control panel or loading new workpieces.
“As far as I’m concerned”, is Michael Kreis’s final verdict, “the digital dental process chain has now been completed”. The open systems customarily used nowadays have become standard practice over recent years, following some initial difficulties, and are meanwhile being used worldwide millions of times over. Not every practice or every laboratory has been “digitally concatenated”, of course, but nonetheless he is convinced: “Nowadays, the process chain is alive and kicking.”
An important sales platform and indicator
The METAV, adds Michael Kreis, “has always been a very important fair for us. On the national and European markets, particularly, it’s a vital sales platform and an indicator for how the year is beginning. The special event themed around ‘Metal meets Medical’ means that the fair is all the more important for us, in that by developing our dental milling machine we have made a successful start on the market for medical technology, and will continue to upgrade our corporate capabilities in this field”.
Author: Walter Frick, specialist journalist from Weikersheim
Pictures in a printable version are available at www.metav.de/photos
Datron AG, Mühltal, Germany
Datron AG is an internationally operating mechanical engineering company listed on the stock exchange and headquartered in Mühltal-Traisa near Darmstadt. Its core products are CNC machine tools for high-speed milling and 3D engraving, dental milling machines for efficient machining of all commonly used denture materials in dental laboratories, dosing machines for fast, high-precision gluing and sealing, tools for high-speed machining, and after-sales services like training, customer support, plus sales of accessories and spare parts.
Approximately 24 per cent of the staff work in research and development, enabling the company to respond swiftly to new market trends and the machining of up-to-the-future materials. The modularised construction of Datron’s machines means they can be configured to suit each customer’s own individual requirements. Thanks to its innovative light-weight construction, Datron’s equipment is energy-efficient and cost-effective. For machining front panels and housings, Datron AG claims to be the market leader in Germany and also the technological leader when it comes to producing high-precision, volumetrically accurate dosing machines. Datron AG has approximately 160 employees in Germany, and a global sales network in more than 20 different countries. Turnover in 2010 came to around 21 million euros.
METAV 2012 in Düsseldorf
The next METAV will be held from 28 February to 3 March 2012 in Düsseldorf. In the even years, it has firmly established itself as an important technology shop window for the entire gamut of manufacturing technology and automation in Germany for manufacturers and customers from Europe. The METAV will be showcasing the entire spectrum of manufacturing technology, focusing on machine tools, production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics and accessories. The METAV’s visitor target group includes all major industrial sectors, particularly plant and machinery manufacturers, the automotive industry and its component suppliers, aerospace, the electrical engineering industry, the metalworking sector, medical technology and the craft sector. At the last METAV in 2010, around 700 exhibitors showcased their products, solutions and services on more than 32,000 m² of net exhibition area. They attracted approximately 45,000 trade visitors from 26 different countries.
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