Ziemek Laboratories is a dental laboratory (lab) headquartered in Olympia, Washington. Founded in 1990 by Bob Ziemek, the lab specializes in crowns, implants, removable products, and all aspects of digital dentistry. Bob and his executive team are enthusiastic proponents of digital dentistry and are driven by their mission to provide excellent service and high-quality products to their customers—a majority of whom are dentists.
Recently, Ziemek’s executive team, Bob Ziemek (CEO), Jamie Stover (COO), and Barbara Andrews (CFO) made the decision to subscribe to Carbon M Series printers powered by its proprietary Digital Light Synthesis™ technology, continuing the Ziemek legacy of adopting new technologies. In this case study, we will describe what factors went into this decision making process, present a return on investment (ROI) framework, and establish why the Ziemek Laboratories leadership team believed in Carbon’s dental solution.
THE ZIEMEK DIFFERENCE
As a full-service dental lab, Ziemek specializes in providing dentists crowns, implants, and removables, all from one source. A typical dental office has to coordinate with three to five different labs for different types of products, which results in variations in product quality, price, and customer service experience. Collaborating with a full-service lab such as Ziemek helps dentists access the highest quality service with predictable product quality and turnaround times. Moreover, Ziemek takes pride in being a true digital lab, providing exemplary operational efficiency, timeliness, and faster turnaround to dental offices because the dentist is able to send digital files, and as a result, the lab delivers finished products back faster.
“I think a lab’s “Digital IQ” is a measure of ability to navigate the most current CAD/CAM landscape, to accept/process all digital impression files, to increase productivity and efficiency utilizing the latest CAD/CAM technology, and to guide and provide dentists with complete digital case support.”
Ziemek was facing three key challenges:
- Inconsistency: in model quality, timeliness, and accuracy due to outsourcing
- Unpredictable cost structure
- Increasing dental model production costs
Having serviced the dental industry for more than 27 years, Ziemek has built a strong reputation based upon their attention to detail and strong customer service and support. Numerous dental offices request crowns, implants, and removables that originate from digital impression scanners, and for these cases, Ziemek primarily leveraged external production facilities to make the dental models and models with dies. Making high-quality dental models and dies is a critical intermediate step for producing accurate crowns, implants, and removables.
As the business grew, Jamie Stover became increasingly frustrated with the lack of reliability and repeatability of existing dental model manufacturing solutions in the lab. Although the work was getting done, the need to use multiple external production facilities introduced inconsistencies in accuracy, as well an unpredictable cost structure, because rush orders would sometimes involve a premium. Moreover, CFO Barbara Andrews noticed that Ziemek’s expenses for purchasing these models made by external production facilities kept increasing (Figure 1).
WHY CARBON? COMPETITIVE AND ROI INSIGHTS
In order to get better control over their costs and reduce variability in model production quality, Ziemek’s executive team decided to bring all model production in-house. The production volumes, which required a high machine utilization rate, supported this decision. Also, Ziemek has excellent technical staff who can quickly learn and integrate new technologies into their production workflow. However, this still meant figuring out which 3D Manufacturing solution to procure to make the dental models and models with dies. Impressed by Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis™ technology’s speed, accuracy, and finish, Ziemek included Carbon M Series printers as one of the contenders.
The Ziemek executive team carried out a detailed competitive analysis (Table 1) and made a rigorous assessment of the return on investment (ROI) between the Carbon printer subscription and the closest competing printer, and Carbon emerged as the clear winner based on the team’s structured analysis.
THE ROI DECISION LENS FRAMEWORK AND SOME EARLY RESULTS
Ziemek followed the following four lens ROI frameworks (Figure 2) to qualitatively communicate what to expect from the Carbon printer subscription:
- Lower costs: early calculations done by Ziemek showed that the cost to make models is 12.5% lower with Carbon’s solutions. However, the team calculated that at full efficiency, the model production costs can be further reduced by an additional 12%– 15%, for an overall reduction of up to 27.5% from the purchased model solution.
- Higher throughput: leveraging Carbon’s 100% digital manufacturing solution, Ziemek was hoping to increase the throughput of their digital workflow. Carbon has already helped deliver on this promise, facilitating an increase in the speed of production on the digital workflow, cutting production turnaround time by up to 40% on some product lines.
- Higher customer satisfaction: Ziemek wanted flexibility of production and the ability to respond to customer requests with a greater degree of nimbleness, something that was much more difficult with a purchased model workflow. Ziemek is now able to proactively address customer rush requests with consistently faster turnarounds, instead of waiting up to five days for an outsourced model. The Carbon solution has eliminated the added complexity of reliance on the production efficiency and effectiveness of an external vendor.
- Business growth potential: Ziemek’s team saw the future potential of launching entirely new product lines leveraging Carbon’s technology and strong materials science focus. Ziemek believes that the future of digital dentistry is dependent on new materials and new processes. Their leadership was confident that Carbon is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions.
THE CARBON EXPERIENCE
Ziemek successfully solved their three challenges in the last nine months leveraging Carbon’s M Series printers, resulting in more satisfied dentists, who are their main customers:
- Model production is close to 100% in-house, providing consistent quality and accuracy with better control of delivery timelines.
- The cost structure is more predictable and lower because all model production is now in-house, with no premium involved for rush orders through external production facilities.
- Model and die production costs are now tightly controlled and highly competitive.
Having spent precious capital expenditure dollars on 3D printing hardware in the past, the Ziemek team really liked Carbon’s subscription business model because the printer hardware and software never get out of date. This approach inherently protects against obsolescence.
“Carbon’s service and support is truly a supportive and collaborative partnership. They are always working to make us more successful. They value our feedback and strive to provide solutions that fit our needs.”
CAD Solutions Manager, Ziemek
Ziemek’s Paul Valencia describes his experience working with Carbon as a true partnership. In addition to manufacturing high-quality dental models at an unprecedented speed, the Carbon M Series printers have best-in-class printer uptime. Ziemek was especially impressed by the Carbon dental team’s responsiveness to any technical needs and the overall quality of customer care they have received in the last nine months, with all service related issues solved within 48 hours or less.
Digital dentistry is a transformation that will shape the entire dental industry over the next few years. Are you ready to be a part of this transformative journey and gain more market share working with a partner like Carbon that offers excellent customer service, ROI, and a diverse portfolio of validated materials on the highly reliable M Series printer? Contact the Carbon Dental Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.