A local manufacturer of orthodontic dental brackets has grown its production in Leland over the past year, while navigating the business through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ceramic Dental Brackets (CDB) Corp., with American headquarters at 2304 Mercantile Drive in Leland, is an Austrian company and part of Switzerland-based Hirsch Dynamics Holding, a global contract manufacturer.
The company supplies various brackets for dental braces, said Herbert Haas, managing director of CDB Corp.
“It’s a very simple product, but we have thousands of final products,” Haas said.
The company has more than 4,000 different types of brackets it makes in Leland.
The company makes three main products: ceramic and composite dental brackets and clear aligners.
The company uses computer numerical control (CNC) machines to produce its ceramic brackets.
“We are extruding ceramic sticks and these ceramic sticks will be used on the CNC machine to make the brackets,” Haas said. “After that, it goes into the furnace for firing and is readied for shipping to the customer.”
For its composite brackets, CDB Corp. utilizes a vacuum pouring process to make the product from polyurethane.
“This year, we will be producing 6.5 million brackets by the end of the year,” Haas said, adding that those numbers come from the orders that CDB Corp. has received.
And in the summer of last year, the company started making its third product at the facility: clear dental aligners, Haas said.
“We are introducing clear aligners. This is a product made in many different production steps starting with 3D printing of molds,” Haas said. “We are growing very fast. We are getting a lot of orders in. So, in the next six months, we have to make some big investments in our production.”
To produce these invisible aligners, the company had to set up new production areas and invest in new machines and new equipment to serve the invisible aligners market, Haas said.
The company, which started manufacturing at the site in 1989, has grown into two buildings over the years, for a total of 8,800 square feet, with about 5,900 square feet of production space, Haas said.
A shareholder in the company had a partner in the beginning, who brought the manufacturing business to the area because of the environment and the people, he said.
“It was a good location to start the business. And we don’t have any intention to leave. We plan to grow here,” Haas said.
The Leland operation of the foreign-owned company supports distribution around the globe with the main markets in the United States, Europe and Japan, he said.
“There has been a lot of changes since we started … there has been significant growth,” Haas said. “We have 20% more sales than we had in 2019.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the company’s sales last year, business has been picking up.
The pandemic last year impacted the facility with a 30-40% partial shutdown of business operations. It wasn’t until November that the company was back to full production, he said, adding that COVID also impacted the company globally.
The company today has nearly 70 employees, including machinists, engineers and operators, he said. The Leland operation also holds CDB’s research and development division.
CDB Corp. supplies its products to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers globally, including 3M Co., he said.
“They are distributing to [OEM] customers and end-users,” Haas said. “We are a so-called private-label supplier. So, we [do not have] our own brands because we are working for OEMs and the OEMs are using their name on the product. If we’re developing the product, we find someone who wants to take it. Or we develop together a product, or our customers come to us [with a product] and ask us to produce it.”
The company is also packaging its various products for its customers.
For the future, CDB Corp. has some more developments and ideas coming to serve its market, Haas said.
The company will increase capacity in production with additional investments in the fourth quarter of this year, on top of the new developments in its brackets, he said.
“We are working on different development projects, using new technologies,” Haas said. “We’re offering a one-stop shop for clear aligners. That means that we are also offering the treatment plan, for which we have developed an AI software.”
No. of employees: 68
Year founded: 1989
Top local official: Herbert Haas, managing director
Company description: CDB Corp. is a maker of dental brackets in ceramic and composite, as well as clear aligners for the dental market.
Product distribution: The company delivers its products around the world.
What made the company decide to make its goods locally? Herbert Haas: “A former business partner had shown us this place in 1989, and we have decided to have our production here.”
What’s your target market? Haas: “We are a white label manufacturer. Our target markets are OEMs around the globe.”
What’s planned next? Haas: “We have two projects planned. One project is the setup of a bracket assembling line … a new customer product. Production start will be mid-July. The second project is a two-step extension of our clear aligner production. Step one is a capacity increase to 50,000 aligners per month and starting this autumn.”
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