Structo: A Start-Up in 3D Printing for the Dental Industry

Case Solution

Reddi Kotha, Lipika Bhattacharya
Singapore Management University ()

Structo is a tech startup founded in 2014 by Huub van Esbroeck and six other mechanical engineering students from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Structo’s founding team had built a 3D printer prototype that could print four times faster than commercially available 3D printers within the same price range. After building the proof-of-concept machine, the team turned to 3D printing service bureaus to sell their product. They found that their printer required a lot of customization to meet the different needs of different service office print jobs. Structo was a small startup with limited funds and resources, so building custom printers was an unsustainable business model for the company. The company had to find a new target customer base or identify great financial partners to keep its business going. By chance, the Structo team received a call from a Singapore dentist and found that their printer could meet the needs of dentists with virtually no adjustments. The “Eureka” moment created a new level of excitement. However, Structo soon found that, unlike its first client, most dentists turned to dental labs for their 3D printing needs. The Structo team adapted its business model to the needs of dental laboratories and the business took off. By 2018, Structo’s business had grown significantly. The company had also entered the 3D printing materials business and started manufacturing its material. However, the medium-term objective and the main focus of the company was growth in the dental market. Structo gradually moved from start-up to a growth phase in its business journey. Van Esbroeck now wondered how Structo could scale his business quickly. How can Structo as an organization prepare for the next level of growth?

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