By Danny Chan
Since the age of 16, beginning with a basic engineering apprenticeship, CAD/CAM technology has been Kevin Bird’s bread and butter. In 2013, after 27 years working for a UK firm providing tech support and consultancy services for a versatile CAD/CAM software across multiple industries, he brought his wide-ranging expertise to Melbourne, carving a niche career in dental prosthetics.
In his former UK-based role, where he toggled effortlessly between diverse industries – from automobile to medical, aerospace to dental – it wasn’t unusual to find the consummate engineer poring over an aircraft part one week and 5axis milling a dental restoration the next. Yet wearing the dental badge exclusively hasn’t changed the name of his game.
“Although certain things like the specific programming, manufacturing process or materials may differ, the motivation behind each of the projects is exactly the same,” he qualifies.
“Whatever the object that is being manufactured, the focus is always on utilizing the most suitable equipment, material and technique to get the most accurate results possible in the most efficient way. That’s our top priority here at Dentmill as well.”
Founded in 2009, Dentmill is a full-service Milling Centre located in Abbotsford. Led by Kevin, the company comprises a team of 5 engineers and technicians providing a comprehensive range of high-end dental milling solutions, including: Full monolithic translucent zirconia, zirconia substructures, Cobalt chrome, Titanium, PMMA materials, milled Lithium-disilicate and implant restorations. Utilizing a sophisticated digital workflow, Dentmill further provides digital scanning and design services and 3D resin printing.
The words “sophisticated digital workflow” are by no means a copywriter’s affectation. Besides boasting a fully digitized workflow that accepts customer’s cases via all digital scanners – the centre’s proprietary system can process both conventional and intra-oral scanned impressions and works with all leading scanner systems which produce open format STL files – it is the only dental facility in Australia to own and utilize Roeder’s High Speed Dental Milling Machines.
With its unique linear motor technology, the revolutionary German milling machine offers high precision, energy and time saving benefits while enabling the manufacture of a variety of top end quality dental products. As part of the seamless digital CAD/CAM workflow, the automated machine can detect and switch between different types of materials and set parameters for continuous, unattended 24/7 output.
Costing almost a million bucks a piece, the Roeders machines were not only expensive. Engineers had to be flown in from Germany to set up the two units Dentmill purchased – installation alone took 3 weeks.
One of the Melbourne team members involved in the initial face meeting with the Roeders side in Germany is Matt Smith, General Manager of Dentmill.
“As an indication of the level of difficulty involved, the Roeders team made sure we knew exactly how to use and maintain the units – we had to attend training sessions taught by German experts – before they were even willing to sell them to us. To them, Roeder’s reputation was more important than making a sale.”
No matter the huge financial outlay and all the challenges, Matt insists, they are clearly outweighed by the benefits.
“The RXD5 milling machines allow us to cover all dental restorations and materials from simple copings all the way to multi implant cases. To date, we have yet to come across any material that we cannot work with.”
That is a bold claim considering the widening range of materials on the market, not to mention varying case complexities and client demands. The flexibility Dentmill offers extends to clients who use genuine industry standard systems as well as those that do not.
Australian labs can be assured of speedier turnarounds from a local milling centre, without having to rely on offshore facilities – as Kevin points out, it isn’t necessary for labs to send cases to overseas milling centres just because they are “authorized” by big brand product manufacturers.
All the advantages that come with having a locally based, cutting edge facility means nothing to Aussie labs if the Dentmill team does not back it up with the right expertise. Thanks to Kevin’s extensive CAD/CAM background and skillsets, and those of his teammates, customers can always look forward to professional help at Dentmill – where Kevin claims, even problematic cases eluding other milling centres, can be resolved.
He relates a recent case in which a customer who owned a bench-top milling unit repeatedly failed to mill a certain prosthetic. After breaking tools and materials from multiple attempts and seeking advice from other milling centres and labs didn’t help, the milling quandary was posed to Kevin.
“I took one look and was able to determine that only a tailored program would work and quickly developed one for it. It took us only one attempt to mill the obscure shape,” Kevin says.
Debunking the myth that milling involves nothing more than “pressing a button and getting the desired results every time,” he continues:
“Some CAD/CAM operators with only cursory knowledge of the complex processes, do not realize that the “plug-and-play” methods prescribed by equipment manufacturers only cover the more typical cases.”
“Not only does our software allow us to customize out-of-the-ordinary cases, our operators have years of training and experience to know what works and what doesn’t.”
With a deserving air of authority, the CAD/CAM stalwart with 32 years under his belt reiterates:
“You can have all the tools in the box, but it is important to know when and how to use them, bearing in mind, the end objective is to achieve high quality results, and nothing less!”
For more information, please call 03 9416 2039 or visit https://www.dentmill.com.au/.