KVH Labs expands with new office space in Comstock Park
Last November KVH Labs moved to its new location at 4005 W River Dr NE Suite B3, the former location of Alter Ego Comics & Books.
Kimberly Van Houten, owner of KVH Labs, was based in a garage addition in her Cedar Springs home. She outgrew the home facility and started looking around for a new location. Holly del Rosario, owner of Cookie Chicks, suggested the Comstock Park location and she moved KVH Labs in November 2022.
“It’s a perfect location,” said Van Houten said about the 700 square-foot space. It’s close to highways and to many of her clients. About 11 area dentists and orthodontists rely on KVH Labs to make retainers, bite splints and expanders.
Van Houten has worked in the dental field for more than 20 years and started KVH Labs nine years ago.
“I worked for several dentists and orthodontists. I was able to learn a lot from them and decided to go out on my own,” Van Houten said.
On a typical day Van Houten checks work orders received and starts the process of making the retainers and bite splints in her facility. Impressions or scans are used in the making of retainers.
Making a retainer takes about 45 minutes. The first step is bending the wire. Liquid and powder are mixed at the acrylic station and the mixture put into a pressure pot for about 15 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes for the mouth palate part of the retainer to harden. Van Houten said this is the fun part of making retainers as many requested stickers, colors and designs such as watermelons, kiwi or American flags can be used.
More 3-D Printing
Van Houten also plans to use upstairs space next door to house her 3D printer. More and more appliance work for doctors and orthodontists use 3D printers that require a room free of any dust. A 3D printer can create retainers with a digital oral scan of the patient’s teeth that can be easily converted to a retainer model for direct printing. These scans eliminate the unpleasant aspects of traditional impressions that can cause gagging.
“It’s (3-D printing) has been around for a while. It’s just really becoming popular now,” Van Houten said. “It’s not necessarily cheaper but it’s more accurate and its easier for the little kids.”
Running a business has become a bit more complicated for Van Houten. She hired her first two employees – Kristine and Karissa --- and now she has rent and payroll. She sought out employees with some experience, dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. She’s working hard to create a good work environment with some flexibility for her new employees.
Van Houten and her husband Jason live in Cedar Springs and are the parents of two young adults, Haley, 21, and Austin, 18.