Using their 40+ years of experience and knowledge of over 200 furnaces, Jed and John Archibald put Ivoclar Vivadent’s new, feature-rich Programat® P710 ceramic furnace to the test.
Here at Archibald and Associates, we recently got the chance to get our hands on the latest and greatest ceramic oven from Ivoclar Vivadent, the Programat P710 made in Burs Austria. Ivoclar Vivadent has given us a whole new host of options and features that just might revolutionize the industry. We have a new larger multimedia touch screen, IRT (Infrared Technology), DSA (Digital Shade Assistant), Gloss Adjustment Assistant, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a smartphone app, new X10 software, and lots of little extras that are just plain cool. Here is what we have seen and experienced as we put the P710 features to the test side by side with our existing furnace for the last couple months.
As you unpack and fire up your new P710, probably the first thing you will notice and get lost in is the new, larger multimedia screen. It truly will make all other ovens within your laboratory seem like dinosaurs. Not only is it a simple touch screen, but it has fantastic resolution and picture quality. It’s so good in fact, that it is great for anything from shade photos to watching videos. Yes videos. The speakers are surprisingly adequate, but if you wish to entertain the lab you can connect external speakers as well. If you are in need of a little more desk space but would like to add a tv or picture frame then this is your answer.
Digital photography has improved the quality of work throughout dentistry, but implementing it correctly is the absolute key to success. When it comes to taking a shade using photography, you can have the best camera on the market, take professional classes and purchase lighting accessories and the optimal printer, but without a shade tab or some kind of sample for reference the very expensive photo you have just taken is rendered useless. Even with the most perfect settings and skill, it is impossible to accurately discern all the variables of color and hue within a single tooth. A bad photo with a shade tab is still more useful than a lab slip that says A1.
In our opinion this is where Ivoclar got it 100% right with its DSA. It not only shows reference shade tabs, but the built in image-processing software measures variance from the color-stable shade tabs to provide not only a base material shade, but lightness and color saturation of any are of the tooth you desire to see. This technology makes the user take shades the exact same way that we teach and take our own shades. You can see from the sample case that even though it’s not an exact translation from our lab slip to the DSA, it is an accurate one (Images 1-2) We are looking at two interpretations of the same shade, and even less experienced technicians would have success looking at either one. It also provides much more detailed information which is shown below.
Here’s how the built-in DSA works:
- The dentist visually selects the three closest matching Ivoclar Vivadent A-D or Chromascop shade tabs and places them in the DSA Shade Tab Holder.
- He/she then takes a photo (smartphones work) with the DSA shade tab holder (Image 3)
- The images are sent to the lab via email, USB or SD, and we transfer them to the P710 through USB, SD, or your X10 software that comes with the furnace
- Select the photo to be analyzed and hit the green checkmark “analyze” button. The main shade is shown instantly and we can take it a step further by using the touchscreen to scroll the blue box over any specific part of the tooth you wish to have an accurate shade for (Images 5 – 6). Those of us who have been using digital shades or taking custom shades know the value in this as no natural tooth will ever be categorized into a single shade, and that the combinations are literally endless.
Does it work every time? Yes. We take about 5-10 custom in-house shades every day here at our laboratory and the shades through DSA have all matched our custom shades every time. One of the reasons we feel it works so well is the fact that it teaches the user to follow basic photo shade taking principals. For example, if your photo is too out of focus, or if the DSA holder and shade tabs are not in view, the DSA will not accept the photo to be analyzed. For some people this learning process will be frustrating, but we need to understand that those kinds of photos are not accurate and will give you a false shade, causing more frustration in the end.
Is there anything we would change? The only thing we for is that it would be available outside the oven to be run in the dental office or on multiple stations. This is such a good program that it would be a shame to have it not used on every single case, for any reason. The furnace does come with shade tab holders for you to send to dentists so they can take the images properly and send them in for analysis though. Perhaps one of the best attributes to the DSA is that it will indirectly train the user to look at teeth differently. The more we look at teeth in the mouth, rather than shade tabs at a desk, we see that there is a world of difference. And even though we all fall short of nature, our work and our clients will benefit greatly.
I have no doubt that 10 years from now we will look back on IRT as an innovation that completely changed oven technology forever. To put it simply, it has a built-in thermal imaging camera that can sense the temperature, moisture and height of your restoration(s). When activated, it will continuously adjust the dry time needed, as well as the closing distance for each firing cycle. It closes the hood at the exact moment moisture is fully evaporated.
In real life terms how will this benefit me? Let’s look at the two IPS e.max ingot samples. I wanted to see the overall firing time and quality difference between our P500 (which was the previous standard of quality) and the P710 side by side. Two identical ingot samples were made (Images 7-9). I put a v groove down the center of the ingots to simulate any pooling or tearing we would see in the fossa of a crown if we didn’t apply stain/glaze correctly or if we didn’t dry correctly.
They also tapered to be thin on one side and thick on the other, just in case there was a slight temperature variance from thickness. Both were stained as identical as possible and placed on identical trays with identical wire pegs (Image 10). We then started them at the exact same time on the same exact Ivoclar stock program. At the start, I expected that the result would be really similar. “How could it be that much different from the P500” I thought. (Image 11-12) The first thing you see is that the muffle of the P710 will constantly adjust up and down depending on the IRT readings (Image 13).
I was shocked when the program finished and It was almost 3 minutes (2:42 to be exact) ahead of the P500. If you’re doing a lot of stain and glaze units that adds up fast! Also, when the P500 ingot was finished and cool you could see that the results looked the same. This is not a down mark in any way. Any oven that gets you the same result as a P500 (and in even faster time) is working perfect. Glaze was applied, and I went a little heavy to test the tearing effect from a faster dry time. I typically would never go with less than the 6 minute recommended dry time unless it was a very small adjustment glaze. Again, the cycle was almost 3 minutes faster than the P500.
This time I thought for sure (from my experience pushing the envelope) that with that much of a shorter dry time, there would be some tearing. To my amazement they both came out perfect (Image 14). Now, do not think that you can shorten your dry time on any oven without IRT. It will not work, trust me. If s
omeone has thought of it, we have tried it. Like I said, the muffle will constantly adjust its distance to the restoration dependent on the IRT information. What this test shows is just how much more efficient the P710 is, compared to an already efficient P500.
Most people will notice the benefit of speed and accuracy from the IRT, but the other advantage of IRT is safety and protection for layered porcelain restorations. Most layered ceramics will do well when fired on the stock programs included with any Ivoclar oven, and it will definitely shorten your dry time on more minimally layered restorations, and even most of your full mouth, large span restorations are just fine with a standard dry time because it takes so much longer to layer and get it in the oven and it has been drying as you go.
IRT has an additional feature called IRT+ which provides a solution for situations where you need a longer dry time such as your opaque layer, PFM bridge pontics, and the anatomical screw-through. Some of you out there, have looked at your freshly fired screw-through, only to be bewildered to see the buccal or lingual wall of porcelain torn or even completely gone. Maybe you have not been able to find an answer as to why your porcelain exploded, or had a more seasoned technician laugh as they imparted some wisdom. Particularly on a PFM screw-through or pontic, there is more porcelain thickness than we normally see in today’s restorations. In most cases if you rush through and run one of these on a standard body bake with a standard dry time, you will most likely see a spot where the porcelain has torn or popped/exploded off. Just like a river rock being thrown into a camp fire, the moisture inside builds pressure and releases the pressure violently. Knowing this principal, I have a different schedule of programs just for heavy layered restorations. The only difference for these over stock is that the try dime has an additional 2 minutes. What a perfect test for IRT+ to see if it makes the similar adjustment. I started with one single screw-through fired on a first body bake (Images 15-16).
I selected the IRT+ mode (which is for larger restorations/opaque firings) in the P710 and hit start while starting the same body program in the P500 for time reference. This time I was relieved that the P710 ran just over 2 minutes longer than the standard program in the P500 and the first body bake came out great. I ran a variety of PFM and thick style layering just to be sure, and saw the same adjustment of about extra 1:45-2:20 minutes with no problems. You may have never run into this scenario or maybe this is old news, either way, as new members enter your team or new cases cross your desk, you can feel confident that IRT will help avoid having anyone learn their lessons the hard way.
Gloss Adjustment Assistant
Another improvement is the addition of Gloss Adjustment to the stock Ivoclar programs. Gloss Adjustment works by increasing the hold time of your glaze program by increments of 10%, all the way up to 100%. So if your stock hold time is 1:00 minute, 50% (half way) would make your hold time 1:30 minutes, and 100% (max) would make your hold time 2:00 minutes (Images 17-19).
As a nice safety feature, the program reverts to the standard 1:00 minute hold time after firing. What I like about this is I built a separate set of glaze programs that are copycats of stock programs just with longer hold times. By the time you add up the different kinds of glaze scenarios and have a 1:30 minutes hold category, and a 2:00 minutes category it adds up to a lot of time. It is nice to be able to utilize the stock programs and not have to create a whole custom library just to change one parameter.
To test I used three identical IPS e.max Press ingots and layered the same amount and type of IPS e.max porcelain. To my best, I textured and contoured all three units as similar as possible (Image 20). I chose to use porcelain rather than stain/glaze, because it’s more reliable to get exact texture results and differences with natural porcelain than it is with stain/glaze. You can do it with stain/glaze, but this method shows more accurate differences, so for the sake of having clear example, these samples have no stain or glaze applied to the surface. As you can see, sample one shows the standard 1:00 minute with no adjustment (Image 21), sample two shows the 50% adjustment (Image 22), and sample 3 shows the 100% adjustment (Image 23). Depending on what kind of result you need, you can use these three samples to decide what adjustment is required.
Gloss Adjustment allows us to custom tailor each case without needing a different library of custom programs. I personally have enjoyed having the 10% increments to choose from. I went from having 3 types of gloss adjustment (with my added custom programs), to 10. Whether I really need 10 is debatable, but either way I really like it.
Yes, there is an APP for your smartphone. Now some of you will be cheering for joy, and some will be asking yourself “Why would I need that?” Regardless of what side you are on, technology is working its way into every part of our jobs more and more and apps might be the biggest wildcard of all. You might get an app and think that it will solve all your problems, fulfill all your needs and then never use it. Or you may criticize someone else on their use of one just to find yourself on the bandwagon the next week. You might not know how technology will improve what you are doing, but you will never know if you don’t have the option. I imagine lots of companies argue what the ROI is on developing an app for different reasons, but I admire Ivoclar Vivadent for entering into the app game. Here are some things you can do for now. By connecting your smartphone and furnace through WLAN you can:
- Monitor the current real time status of your Programat oven
- Start press processes
- Receive phone alerts when a program is completed or an error message is received
- Run diagnostics
You can make and receive calls through your Programat with the Bluetooth accessory. You can even upload contacts onto the furnace and just press a button to make a call and talk through the furnace without interrupting your work. Do the speakers and sound work well? Yes. Is it cool? Yes. Is it useful? That’s going to be as different as the person, and that is what makes it great. I personally wish that I could transfer music/video/image files to the Programat oven, either through the app or by plugging my phone into the USB, rather than downloading to a thumb drive or going through the X10 software. I personally would use the multimedia functions of the P710 more frequently, but that is my personal wish. I think the most important thing is it’s available, so we can see what we want and need and then it’s a simple update from there. So it may not be just what you want now, but it could be next week, or next month because Ivoclar is continuously sending free software upgrades. That is what I think is important- having the option.
For over 40 years, one of the things we have been involved in at Archibald and Associates is a private apprenticeship school. This is applicable to ovens because we would not only test ovens ourselves, but our graduating students always need to purchase ovens to get their laboratory up and running. We have had just over 400 graduates come through our school and seen dozens upon dozens of different oven types and brands purchased. Out of all the brands and types we have used and seen over the years, without a question, we have never known a bad Ivoclar Vivadent oven. Some ovens from other companies have been amazing and stood the test of time, but all, and I mean literally all of our Ivoclar Vivadent ovens have been amazing and stood the test of time. In fact, for just my father and I in our lab, we have 8 Ivoclar Vivadent ovens.
You might ask yourself why would I pay more for the P710, if the P310 is going to be a great oven? This is a great question because even the P300 we have is a great oven, but as we have explained, the advancements of the P710 truly are revolutionary. The multimedia screen has technical benefits and environmental benefits. Most technicians like to listen to music, movies, or podcasts. All of us who have had media in the lab environment and then lost it know just how much it improves your day to day experience. The app may not be life changing to you, but what if an update down the road makes you wish you had it. DSA is truly revolutionary as a teaching tool, communication tool, and for increasing the quality of work you provide to dentists and patients. Plus DSA is extremely easy for doctors and assistants to use and makes shade matching easier for you! Gloss Adjustment will allow you to utilize more of the stock programs and need less custom. There is a mountain of time and money spent in developing the stock firing programs. In fact, we formerly used the Ivoclar stock programs about 60% of the time, and that number goes down to 40% with other brands. With Gloss Adjustment and IRT we have moved that up to at least 80% of the time. Not only does that account for the need of less custom programs, but it also means that a less experienced technician will not need to be taught as many custom programs and be less prone to mishaps.
In closing, the real reason I would strongly recommend not just any Ivoclar oven, but the P710 is the fact that you are getting everything that Ivoclar Vivadent has to offer. You may not think you need a certain feature, but it is nice to know it’s there. Plus we are talking about smart technology here. Would you purchase a new computer with just the minimum memory you think you need? No. Your computer would be toast with one upgrade. For that same reason I would suggest the P710 because it is adaptable and will stay current longer. It will only continue to be improved with each software update. There are probably many adjustments or additions being worked on right now and the possibilities of how good an already great oven will get are very exciting. I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg with IRT. It alone already has and will continue to change dental technology forever.
You have to applaud Ivoclar Vivadent for taking so much pride in their products and putting so much R&D and effort into improving their ovens. They do it consistently and reliably. We like to pride our lab as being unbiased, but it’s becoming harder with our long experience with Ivoclar Vivadent’s quality products.