Imagine an episode of “How it’s Made” for dental instruments. That’s exactly what we saw when we toured the Hu-Friedy manufacturing plant in Chicago on June 21. The tour, led by Errol Edwards, Hu-Friedy’s Manufacturing Team Leader, let us see first-hand the many stages of a dental instrument’s life, from its beginning as a rod of steel, to the final polishing and inspection. We were amazed at the intricacies of the instrument making process. Some equipment-making machines were more than 100 years old, while others were recently created, custom-made robots. Most of all, we were impressed with the Hu-Friedy employees and their passion for their work. Some employees have worked at the plant for 40 years! From ping pong tables in the break room, to recognizing staff for their hard work, you can tell Hu-Friedy values its employees.
The manufacturing plant makes more than 10,000 different dental instruments. Remember how difficult it was to memorize the names of all the instruments? The veteran employees at Hu-Friedy can name an instrument by looking at it across the room. Before any instrument makes it into a dental student’s hands, it goes through a rigorous inspection process. Our tour guide picked some instruments from the scrap pile and challenged us to find the defect. Even we had a very hard time seeing the tiny scratch that caused the instrument to be discarded!
Overall, it was incredibly interesting to see how complex and time consuming it is to create the instruments we use every day. So next time you pick up your explorer, think about how many steps and people it took to create it. Enjoy some pictures from our tour below!
~Megan Guthman and Lia Kalliath, Alabama ‘14, Chicago administrative externs