Dental Tribune Middle East
Dr. Markus Vollmann – Director of Research and Development at Dentsply Sirona Lab

Driving innovation forward

By Dentsply Sirona
April 26, 2019

As the Director of Research and Development at Dentsply Sirona Lab, Markus plays a central role in terms of our innovation pipeline. He is the person who drives new product developments, for example, innovative materials such as Celtra® Press.

Thanks to his expertise, great communication skills and inventive thinking, Markus understands our customers’ needs and turns them into new and smart product ideas. His work philosophy reflects Dentsply Sirona’s unique positioning by always laying out the whole picture of the workflow. He is working closely together with other Dentsply Sirona business units to generate valuable links to related workflows. This means that you can benefit from thought out end-to-end solutions, and subsequently benefit from tangible improvements in your daily work. 

In this interview, Markus explains the various facets of his work as well as the secret behind real innovation.

Tell us a little about your role as Director of Research & Development? What are some of your daily endeavors and/or challenges?
A typical day for me is full of reviewing the statuses of all running product development projects, anticipating and identifying what obstacles or surprises (sometimes positive, sometimes negative) there are or might be, and how we can manage all of these things in order to either meet existing timelines and deadlines or to be able to start new projects which are fitting in the overall portfolio of the company.

For the development team, one needs an open ear to absorb every single surrounding detail, which includes being completely receptive and having a comprehensive, up-to-date understanding of our production, quality assurance, product management, and even logistic teams. In R&D you need constant curiosity, great communication skills and inventive thinking.

How does science, clinical studies, and research all fit under the Dentsply Sirona Lab name? Can you provide a little background on what goes into testing a product before it actually goes into development, and ultimately goes to market?
Due to the fact we are working in the medical devices market, we fulfill a great number of demands for testing and design control processes. For example, when developing a new material for dentistry we need to look at the biocompatibility as well as risk management starting from the production process, to the user, all the way to the end result — our patients. Besides proving and surpassing all requirements from applicable standards, we also want to know how our customers accept the workflow of the product. Before we launch, we take a close look at how it fits into the actual workflow of real-life dental laboratories, and we then start additional vigorous clinical testing after the launch as well. We include our customers quite early on in this process to allow us to react to their outcomes and feedback, and then be able to improve the product within the development timeline.

What makes Dentsply Sirona unique is that the entire workflow is shown, and it can be linked to other workflows and combined into an integrated solution.

When it comes to the prosthetic treatment of an implant using an abutment and full ceramic crown, for example, Dentsply Sirona Lab is the right partner for laboratories. But the treatment workflow as a whole starts from the earlier stage of diagnostics and the implantological treatment, and ends with the restoration finally being cemented or screwed in place. For this purpose, Dentsply Sirona and its Imaging, Implants, and Restorative business create integrated workflows for both dentists and dental laboratories.

One of your roles within Dentsply Sirona is to constantly provide material innovations that expand lab offerings to their dentist clients, while improving their workflow.How do you gather the information needed to improve upon these offerings?
We use groups of our core customers, labs and dentists. Sometimes the most effective feedback comes from our labs and dentists who are everyday partners because they know their ideal workflow routine, and are able to communicate their emerging concerns and ongoing daily challenges.

Can you tell us a little about Celtra® Press, the newest material for laboratories? What was the industry missing (doctor, labs, and patients) that this material now offers?
Celtra® Press has significantly improved the workflow in the lab by being easier to press (with excellent flowability) and excluding the time-consuming and dangerous use of hydrofluoric acid to get rid of the reaction layer. Despite this, it is stronger than other pressable high-strength glass-ceramic materials on the market. Therefore, Celtra® Press provides a simpler workflow in the lab, the dentist receives a robust material with a very good fit and easy polishability, and the patient absolutely loves the natural looking aesthetics and beauty of his or her new teeth.

What do you foresee Dentsply Sirona off ering in the near or distant future as far as material advancements?
We will soon present a new generation of CAD/CAM material, hand in hand with the lab material combining Celtra® Ceram porcelain that is suitable for every all ceramic case. We are also planning further material improvements on other material sectors coming very soon!

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