ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
An innovative idea from a dental assistant with 78th Operation Readiness Medical Squadron Dental Flight has brought cost savings of $2.5 million annually to the Air Force by sharing expired Reprisol, a dental impression material, with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex located at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
According to Tammy Pilcher,78th ORMS Dental Logistics Program manager, a dental impression material to make crowns called Alginate was initially proposed in 2006 but the material would not stay in place and would flow back out of holes.
“I thought about it, got them some Reprosil, and told them to try,” she said. “Once the material is placed into a location it takes four to seven minutes for it to set.”
With a shelf life of only a few years, the expired Reprosil would have been thrown away but it found new life with the C-130 Delegated Engineering Authority at the WR-ALC.
“Sometimes it is difficult for us to see or measure what we need to repair so we take the Reprosil out,” said Dwayne Lassiter, WR-ALC DEA engineer. “We squirt that Reprosil on the part or in the part through the hole. Once it hardens we can pull it out and it will give us a three dimensional picture of what we are looking at.”
According to Lassiter, if the DEA did not have the Reprosil they would have to visually inspect and just try to do the best they could do with what they see and take the some measurements with some other type of mechanic instrument like depth gauges or calipers.
If the engineers cannot find a solution with visual inspections the next step is to bring in non-destructive inspection equipment.
“If an x-ray has to be done on an aircraft, the area has to be quarantined and all other work being done around the aircraft has to stop,” Lassiter said. “As we know from having medical procedures, those kind of things are expensive and time consuming.”
According to Lassiter, the C-130 DEA office saves $270,000 annually.
“Each time we use the Reprosil it potentially saves the Air Force $10-15 thousand and 2-4 days of lost work.” Lassiter said. “And the lost work days are just as important.”
The use of the dental impression material has been shared with other engineering departments in the WR-ALC.
“It is not just our section that uses the Reprosil,” Lassiter said. “All our counterparts like F-15 and C-5, are using it, as well. The Reprosil provides huge dividends for us and saves the Air Force a lot of money.”
Innovation can be found everywhere. Even low tech solutions from an unlikely sources can provide high tech answers. These applicators and Reprisol are used at every Air Force base around the world, and people only need to go and ask to see if they can use.
“It’s thinking outside the box,” Pilcher said. “It makes me feel good to contribute a small amount. I was only trying to help a fellow civilian employee out and never gave it a second thought.”