top of page

The Dental Lab Milling Dilemma: Exploring In-House vs. Outsourcing Options

The decision on how to approach milling—whether to keep it in-house or to outsource to external milling centers—can significantly impact the efficiency and quality of a dental lab's operations. Let's first explore the benefits and considerations of in-house milling. Having control over the entire production process, from design to milling, offers advantages such as customization and immediate adjustments to meet specific client needs. Additionally, in-house production may provide enhanced security for proprietary designs and techniques.

Over time, investing in in-house milling equipment could prove more cost-effective than outsourcing every job. However, establishing a milling unit requires a substantial upfront investment in equipment, software, and training. Regular maintenance, calibration, and software updates are also necessary to keep the equipment at peak performance. Skilled technicians trained in CAD/CAM technologies are essential for operating milling machines, and any equipment downtime or technical issues can disrupt workflows and cause production delays.

On the other hand, partnering with external milling centers has its own set of benefits. These centers often boast specialized expertise and advanced technology, resulting in high-quality, precise outcomes. Outsourcing allows dental labs to easily scale their production capacity to meet demand fluctuations without investing in additional equipment. Delegating milling tasks to specialized partners enables labs to focus on core competencies and business priorities. Moreover, milling centers may offer a broader range of materials and technologies, including those that might be too expensive for in-house milling. However, outsourcing means labs rely on the reliability, quality standards, and turnaround times of external partners. Clear communication is crucial to ensure requirements and expectations are met, and while outsourcing may seem cost-effective initially, long-term costs can accumulate. Ensuring consistent quality standards across multiple outsourcing partners can be challenging, and diligent oversight is required.

When comparing the two approaches, in-house milling offers control and flexibility, while partnering with milling centers provides expertise and scalability. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, emphasizing the importance of assessing a lab's unique needs and long-term objectives.

Identifying a strong partner is crucial for dental lab owners and professionals to ensure high-quality outcomes and efficient workflows. Seeking milling centers that adhere to strict quality standards and relevant certifications, such as ISO 13485, is essential. Evaluating a center's range of materials and technology capabilities, flexibility in accommodating custom orders, and ability to deliver fast turnaround times without compromising quality are key considerations. Additionally, robust communication channels, responsive customer support, and transparent communication regarding order status and updates are vital for a successful partnership.

The decision between in-house milling and collaborating with milling centers depends on a lab's unique requirements, capabilities, and long-term goals. Striking a balance between the two approaches may offer the best solution, providing flexibility, control, and quality assurance. Regularly reviewing and adjusting strategies based on market trends, technological advancements, and business requirements is essential for optimizing lab operations effectively.

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page