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31 Jan 2018 | eLABORATE

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Fabdent installs new Roland DWX-52DC disk changing mill

Well-known digital dental laboratory, Fabdent, located in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, has just installed the new Roland DWX-52DC 5-axis mill with automated 6-disc changer.


"I've been running a dental laboratory for decades and we embraced the digital revolution early on," Mr Whitty said. "Like many of my peers, I was skeptical when Roland entered the competitive CAD/CAM dental milling market with mills that professed to offer reliable, high quality output at a price point that, if it lived up to the brochure, would represent outstanding value.

"Fast forward a few years and I've just installed my 4th Roland mill and am an advocate for the brand to any dental laboratory looking for a solution to compete with the offshore labs and chairside milling or just looking to go digital.

"Running a digital dental laboratory is closer to medical manufacturing than to our roots in handmade bespoke crowns, bridges and appliances. Ideally, we want digital intraoral scans coming in at one end with digitally manufactured prosthetics leaving at the other. This allows us to monitor the cost per job precisely so when I'm shopping for a new mill, I have a range of criteria I'm looking for in order to increase efficiency, lower cost and reduce the need for human intervention in the process.

"Also, as an established digital laboratory, when I go looking for a new mill, I start by defining what I need it to do in the lab. It is, in effect, no different to hiring a new employee - mills need a job description too! In this case, our zirconia production has increased markedly and we needed a new mill just to look after that. The DWX-52DC was an obvious choice because the automated 6-disk changer will allow it to work autonomously overnight, effectively adding a night shift to the lab."

Mr Whitty said that the other Roland "dry" mills in his lab would now be used to manufacture splints, surgical guides, denture bases and partial denture frameworks in PMMA and acetal resin or for creating restorations in wax for pressing.

Not just a disk changer, a genuine game changer

Fabdent's stable of CAM manufacturing equipment now includes four mills and several 3D printers.

"The DWX-52DC is an evolution of two of the 3 Roland mills I own already, both of which are still the foundation workhorses in my lab," Mr Whitty said. "One of the attractions of Roland as an equipment partner, which is never lost on me, is just how dedicated they are to getting their product right.

"I have no complaints about the first mill I bought from Roland (and still use today), but with each new evolution released, the amount of time and effort put into improving the product is immediately apparent. The company works extensively with lab owners globally, listening to their ideas and concerns and then distilling these into making the next version of the product significantly better. When I invest in technology, this is exactly the type of company I want to partner with."

The new Roland DWX-52DC 5-axis "dry" mill is based on the highly successful DWX-51D. However, apart from the addition of the side-mounted disk changer, it has undergone a complete internal upgrade compared to the original DWX-50.

The 5-axis simultaneous dry mill now has an improved 30 degree B-axis (the DWX-50 had a 20 degree B-axis).

An electric motor now runs a high quality spindle, so no special compressor is needed to run an air driven spindle. It is self-contained - plug it in and press go. The spindle is also replaceable by the user now, so in years to come when you want to do a changeover of the spindle, the cost is parts only - remove and replace a few screws and you are away again. This is a great feature because it reduces cost and downtime. All of the major moving parts including the motor spindle are now hidden away behind an access panel which keeps them very clean.

The mill also boasts a new Ball Screw Drive that allows greater precision, stability and smoother operation. The DWX-50, conversely, uses a wire drive system. The ball screw drive helps move the spindle backwards and forwards on the Y-axis. There are also ball screw drives for the X and Z axes with very little friction, giving it the ability to absorb high thrust loads. This is a great design upgrade to this mill. 88

A new 15-station tool block and automatic tool changer (ATC) is double the capacity of its predecessor and can accommodate both diamond and carbide tools at the same time as well as ball end, lollypop and end cutting tools too.

A further bonus is the novel zirconia cleaning brush tool that dusts away almost all the zirconia dust from the workpiece when the main milling process has finished.

"The machine also includes an innovative new cartridge disk system," Mr Whitty said. "This has to be seen and used to be really appreciated in my opinion. It's now super quick and super accurate to load a disk of your favourite material and the special torque ratchet screwdriver that's included is just amazing. A few turns of this screwdriver and the exact pressure is applied to the disc to hold it perfectly in place. Removal is even easier - unscrew the holding screws and the disk is removed with ease in 10 seconds or less. It also includes a small block adaptor to mill blocks of hybrid composites.

"The disk changer is the real star of the system, however and it takes 6 disks of any type of material you wish to use. A laser barcode reader recognises the desired disk then the mechanism accesses it and places it into the main milling compartment. It's simple and very effective. When the milling is finished, the disk is returned to its parking position and the machine can then choose another disk to start work on. The machine can run 24 hours a day as you don't need to stop the machine to access the milled disk!

"I have to say this was a real selling point for me as we now just load different pre-shaded zirconia disks in the storage compartment then tell the software what we want to mill, what shade and away it goes. It's really a great, convenient, time-saving feature that in hindsight, you would be foolish to be without.

"The extraction system has also been rethought and redesigned and is now very clever indeed. The internal chamber has also adopted a more streamlined design to suit. Air now flows from the top of the machine and is pulled towards the rear of the unit. It's very efficient, especially when mated with a good quality vacuum unit. Most of the cuttings fall down into the belly of the mill to be extracted or collected there. Personally, I use the BOFA vacuum system on my machines and they have been extremely reliable. To aid this extraction, especially when using PMMA, an ioniser has been added to discharge static particles that tend to stick all over milling machines. This really helps in keeping everything nice and clean."

Colour coded status lights show at a glance the condition of the mill; instantly signalling status and alerting the operator to any change in status. This helps save time and materials and enables the operator to carry out the milling process with confidence. To finish off, a neat, built-in one-touch drawer is included where you can keep all the accessories and tools, making the whole package just perfect.

"Overall this is a sturdy, well-built and great looking machine," Mr Whitty said. "It's easy to keep clean and with the well-known Roland reliability and standard 3-year warranty (excluding spindle), this machine will mill away for years and years effortlessly, just like my other three mills have done so far.

"The materials you can mill include zirconia, wax, PMMA, composite resins, PEEK and gypsum [Roland also makes a dedicated WET-only mill - the DWX-4W].

"The Roland DWX-52DC comes with Virtual Machine Panel software (V panel) which allows the user to communicate with the mill. Complex controls associated with CNC milling have been replaced with V Panel software that automatically starts the milling process, conducts machine diagnostics and operates milling calibration from your computer.

"The CAM software I chose is the SUM 3D Mill Box Roland edition. I have been using SUM 3D on all my Roland machines for years and still find it probably the most useful CAM software for dental applications. The Mill Box version is still a full power CAM software package but it has a lot of features hidden from the user to make it an advanced point and click product. Of course, you can use the advanced features if you like, but it's a mature software package and will mill most things without alteration straight out of the box.

"I really like this mill, my others are great too, but I have really noticed a difference in the results we're getting with the Roland DWX-52DC. It's solid, precise, clean, easy to use and maintain, changes disks automatically and best of all, it's very affordable. Would I buy another? Absolutely."

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