When TEAMZIEREIS launched 21 years ago, gold was still the main material for dental tooth replacements. However, after the economic crisis in 2008, the cost of gold skyrocketed, and the industry had to reinvent itself. Pre-2008, gold made up 95% of turnover, while now it's only 5%.
“We did a 180-degree switch of the company”, says Niclas Ziereis, Head of Sales. “Since 2008, we have been mainly focused on digital workflow in the dental industry. We were one of the early adopters in the dental industry to focus on digital.”
TEAMZIEREIS’s new business model also included selling milling machines. Today, they no longer have any analog products in their product portfolio. “We cover the entire digital workflow, from the scanner, software, lab scanners, milling machines, to sintering processes, basically everything. We also have our own production center for customers who don't have a milling machine so they can send us their files as a service supplier.”
“If you compare TEAMZIEREIS to a car dealership”, says Niclas, “it is like having the different premium brands together in one showroom” – they deal with the high-end, high-cost side of the dental industry. The company currently has 35 employees, and recently expanded into a second business unit, covering 2000 square meters.
Overcoming labor shortages with dental automation
TEAMZIEREIS take on dental indications that are not easy for smaller labs to produce, for example, the metal printing process, “because the investment is so high, it doesn't make any sense for a 5–10-person operation in Germany to do that themselves”, says Niclas. The business strategy for the coming years will be to focus on complex indications, with for example metal printing, “because milling machines are nearly in every lab. You don't grow with zirconia crowns; you grow with high-quality printing.”
The biggest recent change in the industry that Niclas has seen is that “digital is now accepted”. Only five years ago the common pushback was, “why should I do that digital when analogue works? Why should I spend money to buy a scanner? Nowadays it's not a question of should I go digital, but with whom do I go digital?” Given the vast difference in workflow between the two processes, it’s no longer necessary to convince people to switch.
50% is mind-blowing compared to what we knew before
Head of Sales, TEAMZIEREIS
The biggest challenge for the industry is the search for talent, says Niclas. There aren’t enough talented younger people joining the industry to meet the demand: “We see an ever-growing demand, while slowing down in supply of new labor.” Niclas sees this problem only getting worse in Germany and Europe, with many dental technicians approaching retirement in their 50s and 60s."
“The only chance to solve this problem is automation”, he believes. Rather than viewing automation as “robots taking over jobs”, this should be recognized as a positive change: automation allows businesses to grow despite labor shortages by making human jobs less manual and repetitive.
Oqton’s agnostic dental software is a game changer
Digital complexity is growing fast. It was relatively simple for a lab to get by with just one 3D printer just five years ago. Now, there might be 20. Even if you have the best machine on the market, “it doesn't help you if the components don't work together.” Niclas feels TEAMZIEREIS is among the market leaders in terms of new, latest technology machines and software. This comes with the advantage of being able to test in a real-world environment:
“If somebody sells a milling machine and software just from a catalog, it's different from selling the same machine that has already been running for two years in our lab downstairs. Every problem the machine creates, we’re able to solve it for our customers because we continuously try and test new software solutions.”
Given the number of machines TEAMZIEREIS run, the Oqton for dental solution was a game-changer, with agnostic software that can integrate with different systems. “If you have five software solutions for five machines, it's more to learn, it's more to understand, so it can bring more problems,” says Niclas. “The idea of having one software for the whole production makes it much easier for the production workflow and the employees.” This is not only important for 3D printing, “it’s important for all company units”.
Nothing comes close to Oqton for dental
TEAMZIEREIS plans to use Oqton throughout the whole production center, “for everything”, including up to 15-20 different types of machines. Previously, some employees were designated specialist operators of single machines, which caused major problems during holiday leave and sickness. With Oqton, all the machines run on the same software, allowing any trained employee to run it. Furthermore, Oqton AI allows the company to use more auto-nesting for the milling process.
“We really realized quite fast that Oqton is a huge step forward,” says Niclas. “In the very first testing phase we improved the building time by 50%. Ten percent is good, 20 is interesting, 30 is fascinating. But 50% is mind-blowing compared to what we knew before.” The improvements weren’t only in speed, but also in the support for part removal. Previously, the metal was so thick they required a metal cutter to laboriously cut through. Because Oqton requires thinner support, this can now be done with a single hand.
Niclas Ziereis confirms “Oqton had a huge impact on the way we work.” There are other software providers, but he puts them in two categories: one where the manufacturer software only works with the single machine; and the second one, where software comes from outside the industry. In the second category, Niclas asks:
“Do they know about dental industry and our challenges? For example, the idea of laser melting is used in different industries, but the needs of the dental industry are very different compared to automotive. It’s very hard to learn and understand the key facts of milling crowns and bridges”.
For the dental industry, Ziereis believes “there is no alternative to Oqton”. “It solves so many problems, it's much easier to use, and it’s not expensive.”
TEAMZIEREIS GmbH was founded 20 years ago with a lot of dental know-how, courage, and passion. The company's business focus is on dental products and services connected with the digital workflow. For this reason, TEAMZIEREIS has comprehensive know-how with CAD/CAM operations and pursues an integrated digital manufacturing concept.
The company produces removable partials, dental crowns, and components for orthodontic treatments, for example, filigreed wires, from cobalt chrome alloys with a powder-based selective laser melting 3D printing system.