Transformation with Education for Dental Technicians

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Finding the right people for your company is the talk of most businesses globally at present, not to mind for those who are struggling to meet the skills shortages across numerous industries in Ireland as 2024 progresses. In the specialised field of the dental laboratory sector in Ireland, a severe shortage of highly skilled, talented dental technicians is posing challenging questions for most employers just like PD Ceramics Ltd.  

Every industry undergoes transformation year on year, and it is critical to keep pace with the changes that are happening, but for dental laboratories the investment in education doesn’t just support the team, but more importantly the customer, our dentists. In turn, their dental patients can benefit from having their dental restorations crafted to an exceptionally high standard in an advanced dental laboratory like PD Ceramics Ltd. We have a had a very unique journey on the education path over the past number of years and it is great to look back and see just how far we have come!

Managing Director Paul Dowling at Zirkonzahn Education

The Landscape of Education for Dental Laboratories: 

Our Business Development Leader, Jacqueline Ffrench has always been passionate about knowledge transfer within the company and this was made easier with the implementation of Zirkonzahn as a key single source supply partner for our product and services manufacturing. The pathway to learning for dental technicians with Zirkonzahn Education has been utilised since 2015 from our 1st installation day when we started working with their materials, machines and software. We have invested year on year in various courses for both the team and our dentists since then. The collaborative shared knowledge in the team is stronger as they have all been trained at various different stages yearly during their time with PD Ceramics Ltd. Training has taken place at Zirkonzahn Education Centers in Italy, Germany and onsite in Loughrea, Co. Galway.

Training programs, workshops, and courses provided by the Zirkonzahn School in particular over the past 9 years have been invaluable opportunities for our dental technicians as laboratory professionals to acquire new knowledge and refine their craftsmanship. We never wanted to just buy a scanner, software, or a milling machine; we wanted to learn to excel in dental technology and advance the career paths of our technicians too. Education has been the key for this.  

Since 2015, we have been focused on supporting change in our sector by combining the technological advancements in dental technology and educational resources available from suppliers like Zirkonzahn Worldwide to support our technical team. By refining skills in the team, we have been successfully harnessing the power of providing education to our dental technicians via continuous learning opportunities with Zirkonzahns support in particular. This has not only enhanced our individual team members proficiency in digital workflows, but also in continuing to excel in combing this knowledge with traditional manual skills.  An additional benefit has also come in the form of working with advancements in techniques, materials and manufacturing methods that has contributed to the overall growth of our company and we have been able to fortunately support our various team members on this journey ever since. 

Ranger School 

In 2018 we invested in sending Pietro Bonanno DT, to Zirkonzahn Ranger School for 3 months extensive training where he intensively trained in the areas of materials, manual skills, CAD/CAM technology, business, marketing, digital photography, and a physical activity component daily. Spending 3 months in the natural beauty of South Tyrol was also a time for reflection, concentration and forging new strengths. Working closely with the other Rangers who came from Russia, Spain and Portugal offered Pietro a great chance to be part of a team, even whilst focusing on his own career. All of this elevated Pietro to a new level to join PD Ceramics Ltd at the end of 2018 and begin his new journey as key team player in the lab.

Life After Ranger School

After joining PD Ceramics Ltd directly from Ranger School in December 2018, Pietro Bonanno was able to immediately get to work in the dental laboratory with confidence. The value of having a dental technician who was comfortable working with the complete Zirkonzahn workflows, software, CAD/CAM and materials allowed us to bring balance to the team dynamic at the time. Pietro has changed so much since embarking on his transformative journey as a dental technician. We want that opportunity for all of our team.

“Taking part in Ranger School has been an amazing experience for me. The opportunity to study with such expert teachers and mentors during these 3 months opened a world of knowledge in the dental sector that I couldn’t access before! It didn’t just improve my life as a dental technician, but also elevated me on a personal level.”

Pietro Bonanno (2024)

Differentiate with Education!

Even after having the system a few years and having a newly qualified ‘Ranger’ working with us on the the team, we continued to invest in education. Even as a seasoned dental technician, our Managing Director Mr. Paul Dowling has advanced his own learning across his career, but having the support of Zirkonzahn Education for the whole team as it grew shows just how important it is to have continuity for consistency.


In 2023, a little later than the originally planned 2020 date thanks to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Mr. Paul Dowling, our Managing Director attended and completed ‘Heldencampus’ – ‘Heroes Camp’ at Zirkonzahn in South Tyrol, Italy. He participated in this exclusive 5-day training programme with two other candidates from Europe and the opportunity was time as a dental technician to truly immerse oneself in creating a masterpiece in serene surroundings with other dedicated professionals. A truly transformative few days away from the hustle and bustle of a busy production week, it was even more special to be one of only 3 participants who get to do this course yearly.

Benefits of Education for a Dental Laboratory

We knew already that our technician team was stronger in many ways with their own investment and experiences of learning before joining us, but we have continued to focus on strengthening them by providing educational opportunities to: 

  • Master Technological Advancements: Education has empowered the team here at PD Ceramics Ltd as dental laboratory professionals to master the latest technological tools and equipment. From digital scanning and CAD/CAM technology to 3D printing, staying abreast of these innovations is essential. A well-informed workforce can integrate these advancements seamlessly, improving efficiency and the overall quality of dental prosthetics. 
  • Innovation and Creativity: Continuous learning stimulates innovation and creativity. Educated dental technicians are more likely to experiment with new materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the field. This spirit of innovation not only keeps the laboratory competitive but also contributes to advancements in dental technology. 
  • Guaranteed Irish: Becoming a member of Guaranteed Irish in 2023, which is a recognised symbol of trust in Ireland has changed how we are doing business in many way. Only businesses who meet the strict criteria to join are eligible to become licensees. We are creating local employment supporting our local economy and bringing a high level of quality, locally manufactured dental restorative solutions to the Irish market and beyond.
  • Awards: Being recognised as an Small to Medium Enterprise (SME)by the Small Firms Association and not just a dental laboratory has been one of the many rewards we have received due to our investment in education at PD Ceramics Ltd. Without this continuous commitment we could not give our sector the support it needs in the fast paced, digital world of dentistry we are operating in today.
  • We are ‘National Small Firms Association Awards 2024 Finalists’ in the Services category on March 7th, 2024.
  • We are Guaranteed Irish Business Awards Finalists 2024 in the Pharmaceutical & Medtech category on March 21st, 2024.

Military School 

In 2024, Raoul Armellin, DT will join participants in April at Military School at Zirkonzahn in South Tyrol, Italy. As a young dental technician who is dedicated to his role as a dental technician here at PD Ceramics Ltd, we want to immerse him in the culture and rewards that training with Zirkonzahn Education offers. It is wonderful opportunity for Raoul to find his strengths and be challenged in this weeklong adventure. We hope that he finds his passions ignited with his teammates on the course and comes back bursting with new ideas and courage as he becomes a stronger dental technician.


In conclusion, the power of education in a dental laboratory cannot be overstated. It is the catalyst for embracing technological advancements, ensuring precision and quality, adopting a patient-centric approach, staying compliant with regulations, and fostering a culture of innovation. Investing in the education of dental laboratory professionals is an investment in the future of the industry, driving excellence and setting new standards for dental prosthetics.

As the landscape of dentistry continues to evolve, education remains the key to unlocking limitless potential and achieving unparalleled success in the dental laboratory at PD Ceramics Ltd. What makes us unique in the our sector is our steadfast commitment to ensuring our team and the business never miss an opportunity to learn!

Keep an eye out for our teams educational updates as 2024 unfolds!

“Ancora imparo”

The Italian phrase meaning “yet, I am learning” is a fitting conclusion for this diary entry as our core team are Italian.

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