Orthodontist Turns To CNC Swiss To Manufacture His Device

Dr. Stephen Hanks (Las Vegas, Nevada), an orthodontist who is also an adjunct professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry and an ordained Mormon minister, has added a few more titles to his résumé: manufacturing engineer, CNC Swiss programmer and setup person. These have been added in rapid succession since July of 2001, when Dr. Hanks decided to get into the Swiss machining business and culminated in January 2002 with his acquisition of a six-axis CNC Swiss-type lathe.

Dr. Hanks decided to take the plunge into CNC Swiss after having difficulty finding job shops with the machining time to make his parts, tiny components that go into an orthodontic device called a Herbst appliance. But before he made the investment, he wanted to be sure he could handle the complex CNC programming such a venture would entail. So he purchased PartMaker SwissCAM from PartMaker Inc., a Division of Delcam PLC (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania).

"I bought PartMaker SwissCAM to help me understand the concept of Swiss-turning," says Dr. Hanks. "That helped prepare for buying a machine."

Herbst appliances are designed to correct an overbite caused when the lower jaw is set too far back in the mouth. Often this condition is misdiagnosed as a regular overbite (where the upper jaw protrudes too far over the lower jaw).

Dr. Hanks himself suffered from this condition but refused to undergo the painful surgery necessary to correct it. Introduced to the concept of Herbst at an orthodontic conference in 1978, Dr. Hanks applied what he learned to cure his condition. He designed and built his own Herbst device, which he began using in 1992. He wore the appliance for 15 months and then began modifying and advancing the traditional Herbst design.