Digital Dentistry Transformation: A Small Lab with Big Throughput

How Trey Ford Embraces Carbon Technology to Help His Business and Employees Thrive

In the ever-evolving landscape of dental technology, Trey Ford’s dental lab, Design Dental, stood at a crucial juncture. Historically rooted in traditional craftsmanship, the lab was confronted with a stark reality: the need to dramatically increase its throughput to remain competitive. Facing industry peers who were rapidly adopting digital solutions, the lab’s output was lagging, prompting an urgent reevaluation of its processes.

Embracing Carbon Technology

The transformation kicked off when the lab decided to fully embrace digital dentistry, specifically through the integration of Carbon’s advanced 3D printing technology. This wasn’t merely a technological upgrade but a strategic overhaul aimed at catapulting the lab into the digital future of dental craftsmanship. The decision was supported by compelling data and a clear vision for growth.

Before the digital pivot, the lab’s production of dental arches—a critical benchmark of its operational capacity—was modest, with the team producing 150 arches in 2019. This figure starkly contrasted with industry competitors, who were leveraging digital technologies to significantly outpace the lab’s output.

Quantifying the Digital Transformation

The adoption of Carbon printers marked a turning point. Starting in 2020, the lab embarked on a journey of rapid transformation, characterized by substantial increases in productivity and efficiency. The numbers speak volumes:

  • 2019: 150 analog arches, 4 employees, 1 denture tech (baseline pre-digital technology)
  • 2021: 326 digital arches, 5 employees, 1 denture tech for design and finish
  • 2022: 641 digital arches, 6 employees, 1 designer, 1 finisher
  • 2023: 1,142 digital arches, 8-9 employees, 1 designer + design service, 1 finisher

This exponential growth was not solely a function of increased manpower but a testament to the transformative impact of the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis™ (Carbon DLS™) technology. The number of arches produced per year increased more than seven times with only a minimal increase in staff per year.

While having only one denture finishing technician, the lab’s operational efficiency was supercharged, allowing for a significant increase in output without a proportional increase in staffing. Because of the quality and accuracy of the parts that Carbon printers produce, Trey Ford could ramp up denture production without having to proportionally increase the number of finishing technicians.

Beyond Numbers: A Cultural and Operational Revolution

The transition to digital dentistry fueled more than just quantitative changes. The introduction of a four-day workweek marked a revolutionary shift in the lab’s operational and cultural ethos. This initiative, aimed at enhancing work-life balance, underscored the lab’s commitment to its team’s well-being and morale. The positive impact on productivity and innovation was palpable, illustrating that technological advancement and human-centric practices can coalesce to create a thriving workplace.

The strategic expansion to three Carbon printers further solidified the lab’s commitment to staying at the forefront of digital dentistry. This expansion wasn’t just about scaling production capacity; it represented a deep-seated belief in the power of innovation to drive excellence and competitiveness in the dental industry.

The Road Ahead: Sustained Growth and Innovation

Trey Ford’s lab transformed by embracing digital technology and a new approach to business growth. Only in 2024 did Trey Ford finally need to hire a second finisher, who doubles as a printer operator, to keep up with the demand. This lab’s journey exemplifies how strategic investments in technology, coupled with a focus on operational efficiency and team well-being, can revolutionize a traditional lab’s trajectory, setting new standards of excellence in the dental industry.

Contact the Carbon Dental Team at for a consultation that could transform your future.