Often times a piece of equipment fails and you are told that it is irreparable. While models change and may go out of production and manufacturers even go under or are folded into other organizations, often one can still find the necessary components to keep your equipment running and avoid thousands (or tens of thousands) in expenses replacing equipment unnecessarily.
An easy trick to see if a component may be available elsewhere (including outside the dental market) is to look for a name on the component itself. If the name differs from the brand name of the equipment, odds are very good it can be purchased elsewhere.
For example, the photo below shows 4 micro switches inside a Planmeca chair. The service tech told this dentist that “parts are no longer available for this chair” and he was quoted $20,000 to replace the entire chair. With my help, we located the faulty switch and a new switch was purchased for $25. Micro switches (for example) have a lot of applications outside of dentistry and there are scores of sources for such components readily available.
The above is just one example, of course. Things like light bulbs, electrical relays, and even motors are all used outside of dentistry and are normally the types of things dental equipment manufacturers purchase from manufacturers of those components (rather than making themselves). Getting the component manufacturer's name and model off of the component can help you find it from the market at large.
Yes, some components are custom made and proprietary, but many functional pieces are purchased from the market at large and incorporated into dental equipment. Don’t be too quick to replace something just because a minor component is worn even if your equipment may be a little dated or is no longer supported by the dental industry or your local dealer.