The Argen Corp - Geared up for Growth
LMT’s Kelly Fessel Carr and Jessica Fila toured Argen’s San Diego, CA, headquarters, now housed in two nearby locations.
In the nine years since the Argen Corp. started offering digital services, it has experienced phenomenal growth and expansion. The latest development in that journey: an 80,000-square-foot facility that, when combined with the company’s original nearby location, triples its square footage. Operational 24/6, the new facility houses over 100 mills, SLM machines and printers, greatly enhancing its production capacity and outsourcing services for digital design and more than 80 different restorations and appliances.
The new site also gave the company room to rearrange the old location, where it now handles zirconia disc manufacturing, custom abutment and gold crown milling, alloy manufacturing and refining. “We had equipment in every corner and were bursting at the seams. Now we have much more room and have organized the raw material manufacturing in the original location and most of the custom manufacturing in the new one,” says Michael Clark, Senior Vice President, Domestic Sales & Marketing.
Argen has also recently undergone the process of getting MDSAP certified. More rigorous than ISO, MDSAP (Medical Device Single Audit Program) is a relatively new approach to auditing a company’s quality management system and involves a thorough review of every product, process, procedure and any documentation created. The certification is mandatory for companies to sell medical devices in Canada; the U.S., Australia, Brazil and Japan are expected to follow suit. “MDSAP closed the gap between ISO certification and federal or national regulations. It’s extremely time consuming but the result is higher quality and greater consistency,” says Anton Woolf, Argen CEO.
On the Horizon
Argen will continue to expand its services and provide new business opportunities for its laboratory customers. Among the newer products:
• Argen Digital Dentures are available in three versions: an assembled printed base and printed tooth arch; unassembled, meaning Argen provides the printed base and tooth arch to qualified labs that have the proper tools and expertise for assembly at their lab; and a tooth-colored, monolithic try-in.
• ArgenDS HI-Base Denture Discs are made from highimpact acrylic and offer a highly esthetic, fracture-resistant solution for premium denture base needs. The discs are 510(k) cleared and compatible with four- and five-axis milling machines.
• Argen Clear Aligners for which the company has obtained a 510(k) and are now in beta testing. Argen works with mul- tiple scanner software vendors and design centers, including 3Shape and Full Contour. Argen prints and thermoforms the aligners and ships them to the lab. “We’ll have substantial capacity to produce our highquality clear aligners using an automated system,” says Lori Enfield, Director of Marketing.
• Printed bite splints are now in beta testing. Tough and durable like hard splints and flexible like soft splints, they’re printed using FDA-cleared biocompatible resin and will be available in unpolished or polished. Currently, Argen offers milled bite splints.
• ArgenZ HT Multilayer, available this spring, is the company’s next-generation, high strength, esthetic zirconia; it will complement ArgenZ HT Plus zirconia. Looking forward, Woolf is optimistic about the future of our industry. Now that so much work is being fabricated digitally, the next big shift he sees will be how laboratories communicate with their customers. He envisions a future in which the patient is in the dentist’s chair facetiming with the laboratory to discuss the treatment plan and then, with a push of a button, that case goes directly to the laboratory. “If laboratory owners have the choice to buy a new machine or spend money on IT, they should do the latter,” says Woolf. “Labs should be reallocating their capital, hiring an IT consultant and investing in different software platforms with the ultimate goal of making it as easy as possible for dentist-clients to connect and do business with them.”
CEO Anton Woolf poses in front of the Nabertherm burnout ovens used in Argen’s zirconia disc manufacturing process. Nabertherm burnout ovens offer uniform heating, with less than one degree of variation. Every Argen disc is checked for shrinkage rate, weight and density and marked with the exact shrinkage rate. “We use our own products in our milling center so we’re confident in the products our laboratory partners use,” says Woolf, noting that Argen manufactures Anterior, HT+, ST Multilayer, and Ultra zirconia discs using Tosoh powder mixed with other ingredients to modify the strength, translucency and shade.
Argen’s new milling center includes over 100 mills and printers.
Robotics play a key role in Argen’s custom abutments. This robotic arm accurately places titanium blanks into Fanuc Robodrills retrofitted specifically for Argen abutments. For quality control and to ensure accuracy, the titanium blanks are checked before and after milling through an automated touch-probe routine. Critical features of parts are also inspected using a visual system that validates the unit’s design specifications.
From l. to r.: Michael Clark, Argen’s Senior Vice President, Domestic Sales & Marketing; and LMT’s Jessica Fila, Sales and Marketing Director, and Kelly Fessel Carr, Associate Publisher/Editor."
Article originally published in LMT Magazine: March 2020