In his position as the company’s Chief Technology Officer Dr Thomas Hirt promotes Ivoclar Vivadent innovation in dental lab technology and dental medicine: He is responsible for the development of new products. In the following interview, he talks about the requirements a product must fulfil in order to carry the Ivoclar Vivadent label, and he explains why the company consistently develops innovations for dental technicians and dentists. You are invited to take a look behind the scenes!

Dr Hirt, at IDS Ivoclar Vivadent again presented innovations in dental technology and dental medicine. Please explain the criteria that a product must fulfil for it to fit in your portfolio?

Thomas Hirt: The product must be highly innovative and offer a real benefit to our customers. Furthermore, it has to enable our customers to produce esthetic and predictable results in the shortest possible treatment or working time. We are specifically looking for innovative products that will improve the workflow of users and enhance their efficiency.

Is it true that efficiency is a prime topic of interest among dental professionals?

Thomas Hirt: Yes, in our dealings with our customers, we have found that there is a real need for improved efficiency. Dental technicians in particular emphasize the need for achieving the best possible results in the shortest time possible. Our task is to support them in their efforts and help them to increase their productivity without having to make any compromises on quality.

How do you do this?

Thomas Hirt: We constantly analyze the work processes of dental technicians and come up with workflows, product systems and equipment that will allow them to do their job faster and better. We ask ourselves how we can reduce their process steps and save working time. We find out how new materials could enable our customers to achieve more reliable and esthetic results.

In other words, it’s all about optimizing the entire workflow.

Thomas Hirt: Yes, exactly, that’s what it’s all about. Dental technicians require top products in order to produce excellent results. However, there are many more ways of improving individual work processes: for example, by providing integrated product systems and ensuring a validated and reliable overall workflow. Furthermore, it is very important for dental technicians to thoroughly document their work and to collaborate closely and communicate effectively with dentists during the planning and execution of the restorative treatment. In this context, digital technologies are opening up many new opportunities.

On how many innovation projects do you work per year and how long does it take to develop a product?

Thomas Hirt: We release between 12 and 25 products for sale every year. Around a third of them are actual innovations. It takes us between one and eight years to develop a product.

How many of the new products or innovations are for dental technicians?

Thomas Hirt: Most of our products are targeted at dental technicians and we invest most of our budget in researching and developing products for them. We still see a great deal of potential for developing and marketing solutions and innovations for the dental lab market.

Would you describe Ivoclar Vivadent as a technological pioneer?

Thomas Hirt: We have very high standards for the quality, function and life span of our products. When we introduce a new product, we aim to offer the best of its kind or one of the best. Clearly, we cannot be a leader in all fields. Nevertheless, I believe that we are among the best in many categories.