Making Informed Decisions

In-House Milling vs Milling Centres

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In today's fast-paced dental industry, the choice between in-house milling and collaborating with external milling centres can significantly impact your lab's efficiency and quality.

To help you make informed decisions, let's delve into the considerations for each option and explore how to identify a strong partner in the milling centre realm.

1. The Power of In-House Milling: Benefits and Considerations

In-house milling brings several factors into the equation. Here’s a simplified breakdown:


  • Control: With in-house milling, you’re the master of your production process, from design to milling. This control allows for customization and immediate adjustments.

  • Flexibility: Respond swiftly to changes in demand or specific client requests without the need for external partners.

  • Confidentiality: In-house production may provide enhanced security for your proprietary designs and techniques.

  • Cost Savings: Over time, investing in your own milling equipment could be more cost-effective than outsourcing every job.


  • Initial Investment: Establishing a milling unit requires a substantial upfront investment in equipment, software, and training.

  • Maintenance and Upkeep: Regular maintenance, calibration, and software updates are necessary to keep your milling equipment at peak performance.

  • Skill and Expertise: Operating milling machines demands skilled technicians trained in CAD/CAM technologies.

  • Workflow Interruptions: Equipment downtime or technical issues can disrupt workflows and cause production delays.

How to choose your Milling Machine……( read here )

2. Partnering with a Milling Centre: Benefits and Considerations

Outsourcing milling to specialised centres has its own set of benefits and considerations:


  • Expertise: Milling centres often boast specialised expertise and advanced technology, resulting in high-quality, precise outcomes.

  • Scalability: Outsourcing allows you to easily scale your production capacity to meet demand fluctuations without investing in additional equipment.

  • Focus on Core Business: Delegating milling tasks to a specialised partner lets you concentrate on your core competencies and business priorities.

  • Access to Advanced Materials: Milling centres may offer a broader range of materials and technologies, including those that might be too expensive for in-house milling.


  • Dependency: Outsourcing means you’re reliant on the reliability, quality standards, and turnaround times of external partners.

  • Communication Challenges: Clear communication is crucial to ensure your requirements and expectations are met by the milling centre.

  • Costs: While outsourcing may seem cost-effective initially, especially for smaller volumes, long-term costs can accumulate if you’re constantly outsourcing jobs.

  • Quality Control: Ensuring consistent quality standards across multiple outsourcing partners can be challenging and requires diligent oversight.

3. Comparing the Two Approaches ⚖️ 

In-house milling offers control and flexibility while partnering with milling centres provides expertise and scalability.

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, underscoring the importance of assessing your lab’s unique needs and long-term objectives.

4. Identifying a Strong Partner  🤝 

So, you’ve decided to partner with a Milling Centre.

The question now is, how do you identify the best one for you?

Collaborating with the right milling centre is indeed crucial for dental lab owners and professionals to ensure high-quality outcomes and efficient workflows.

Here are some key tips and considerations to help identify the perfect milling centre as a business partner:

Quality Standards: Seek a milling centre that adheres to strict quality standards and certifications relevant to dental manufacturing, such as ISO 13485.

They should use state-of-the-art equipment and employ skilled technicians to maintain high-quality standards.

Materials and Technology: Evaluate the milling centre’s range of materials and technology capabilities.

They should offer a variety of materials compatible with different restorations, such as zirconia, PMMA, or wax, and utilise advanced CAD/CAM technology for precise milling.

Customization and Flexibility: Assess the milling centre’s flexibility in accommodating custom orders and specific requirements.

A good partner should be willing to work closely with you to understand your needs and provide tailored solutions.

Turnaround Time: Time is critical in the dental industry. Opt for a milling centre that can deliver fast turnaround times without compromising quality.

Efficient production processes and effective communication are essential for meeting deadlines.

Communication and Support: Robust communication channels are vital for a successful partnership.

Ensure the milling centre has responsive customer support to address any queries or concerns promptly.

Transparent communication regarding order status, updates, and potential issues is key to maintaining a smooth workflow.

Quality Control Measures: Inquire about the milling centre’s quality control measures throughout the manufacturing process.

They should conduct thorough inspections and testing to ensure the accuracy, fit, and durability of the restorations before shipping them to you.

Reputation and Reviews: Research the milling centre’s reputation within the dental community. Seek recommendations from peers, read reviews, and assess their track record of delivering consistent quality and reliability.

Cost-effectiveness: While quality should be a priority, consider the pricing structure of the milling centre.

Look for competitive pricing without compromising on quality. Some milling centres offer volume discounts or loyalty programs that can help lower costs over time.

Geographic Location: Depending on your preferences and logistical considerations, you may prefer a milling centre that is geographically close to your dental lab.

Proximity can facilitate faster shipping times and easier communication.

Long-term Partnership Potential: Aim for a milling centre that demonstrates a commitment to building a long-term partnership.

Establishing a strong relationship based on trust, reliability, and mutual benefit can lead to continued success and growth for both parties.

By carefully considering these factors and conducting thorough research and evaluations, dental lab owners and professionals can find the ideal milling centre to support their business needs effectively.

5. Non-Biased Verdict 🧑‍⚖️ 

The decision between in-house milling and collaborating with milling centres isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

It’s essential to evaluate your lab’s unique requirements, capabilities, and long-term goals to determine the best approach.

Here are some factors to consider:

Production Volume: How many restorations does your lab produce regularly?

Customization Needs: Does your lab frequently handle custom orders that require specific materials or techniques?

Budget Constraints: What is your budget for equipment, maintenance, and training?

Growth Projections: Is your lab planning to expand in the near future?

Given the complexities involved, my strong piece of advice is to strike a balance between in-house milling and collaboration with a milling centre.

Consider starting with in-house milling for core products or high-demand items, while selectively outsourcing more specialised or less frequently requested restorations to trusted milling centres.

This hybrid model can provide the flexibility, control, and quality assurance needed for sustainable growth and success in the dental lab industry.

Regularly review and adjust your strategy based on evolving market trends, technological advancements, and business requirements.

Ultimately, striking a balance between in-house milling and collaboration with milling centres may offer the best of both worlds.

By leveraging the strengths of each approach, you can optimise your lab’s operations, enhance quality and efficiency, and meet the evolving needs of your clients effectively.

Stay tuned for our next issue where we’ll continue with more insights and advice for dental lab owners and professionals.

As always, we’re here to support you in navigating the dynamic world of dentistry.

Until next time! Happy Milling!!!

Extra Resources Roundup

  • Milling Machines Influence in Zirconia (NML)

  • How to choose your Miiling Machine (DTL)

  • Lab Software to manage and grow ( HERE )

  • Dental Milling Machines Insights (LinkedIn)

  • How are dentists choosing crown material (Watch)

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