A visit to VITA Zahnfabrik September 2022

And it came to pass that Bristol CadCam was invited to see VITA’s manufacturing facility in Germany. We were very interested to see their setup, and in particular, how they went about producing zirconia.

Now, VITA has been around a long time, and as a Technician myself, I had the view that they were maybe slightly outdated. How wrong I was…

Their hybrid material is very much state of the art and a market leader in that it has a special dual structure not found in other hybrids, more info here….

However, during this visit, I was particularly interested to learn about the VITA approach to zirconia. In the first of three manufacturing sites we were shown rocks at one end, porcelain and zirconia at the other!

There were far more processes involved than I realised, and that’s despite having visited three other zirconia manufacturing companies in the past. I think I had been shown only part of the process…

Selection of raw materials for porcelain powders was key and came from a very specific place. Quite an amount was discarded right from the off so that control over the performance both through the production process and crucially at the technician’s bench was maintained.

Zirconia production was based on Tosoh powders (from Japan). Tosoh supply most manufacturers worldwide.

And so on to colour, particularly pre-coloured zirconia. The powders are available from Tosoh in basic colours, from then on it is a very technically sensitive process to ‘get the colours right’ and of course, to match the VITA shade guide. There is a special department with the sole duty of continuously checking colour at all stages. It is far more difficult than we would think; get the percentages right, then mix, no, it is far more complex than that. This difficulty shows itself in the colour variation observed in different zirconia’s from around the world, despite using the same powder supplier, Tosoh.

An independent assessment of various zirconia’s available showed clearly that VITA zirconia was the best match to their own shade guide. Some samples were some distance from the shade guide! A result that really surprised me, but given VITA’s thorough processing and quality control, perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised that their zirconia was the most accurate.

It was a full-on day, and our brains were overloaded, but the takeaways were that VITA were at ceramics leading edge and had the best colour matched zirconia out there. Very impressive.

Tim Brothers

Bristol CadCam Co Ltd