Structo, a NUS-born 3D printing startup, has begun manufacturing 3D printed nasopharyngeal (NP) testing swabs in Singapore to help in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Working in collaboration with authorities and healthcare professionals in Singapore, the company has now produced a million 3D printed NP testing swabs, with deliveries to customers in Singapore starting this week. Each of the swabs are individually sterilized and packaged before being delivered. Structo is scaling up rapidly to fulfil orders from healthcare institutions and other key parties across Singapore as well as customers globally and will soon have the capability to produce over 1 million 3D printed nasal testing swabs per week.
Structo is a 3D printing startup which operates primarily in the dental industry. Since the start of the pandemic, working in collaboration with other 3D printing partners, universities, and medical institutions across Singapore, Structo has mobilized its resources towards the manufacturing of pre-sterilized nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs, thereby enabling more COVID-19 testing to take place across the region.
There are limited numbers of testing kits currently in circulation globally, and with many countries now easing their lockdown restrictions, there is an urgent need for testing on a massive scale in order to fight the virus, particularly in heavily stricken countries such as US, Brazil, and Russia. Whilst Singapore has deployed effective contact tracing mechanisms to curb the spread of the virus, continued large scale testing is seen as critical in allowing it to return to a state of normality.
Structo’s 3D printed NP testing swabs are FDA registered medical devices, which adhere to strict manufacturing guidelines. The Structo team manufactures its swabs in accordance with Struco’s ISO 13485 QMS requirements from biocompatible material and sterilizes each individually packed swab to ISO 11135 standards.
“We have been in touch with the authorities in Singapore for several months working with doctors and hospitals to validate a number of different designs and to ensure that all the nasal swabs that we manufacture will be safe for final use on patients,” said Huub van Esbroeck, Founder of Structo.
“In this climate, we recognize the importance of the availability of testing kits and the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the economy and supply chains worldwide,” said Huub van Esbroeck. "We hope that our in-house manufacturing capabilities will be able to help alleviate some of those problems and help us avoid a shortage of critical testing equipment globally."
Seasoned deep tech investor and Structo backer Wavemaker Partners believes that deep tech startups are uniquely positioned to add tremendous value in these uncertain times. “Structo’s proprietary high-speed 3D printing technology paired with their expertise in manufacturing medical devices allowed them to react quickly to this pandemic. They went from producing dental models one day to nasopharyngeal swabs the next without the need for retooling,” said Paul Santos, Wavemaker Partners' managing partner, based in Singapore. “The team is now working round-the-clock on ramping up production capacity in the coming weeks as we anticipate more interest from around the world.”
With a consolidated effort from both the government and the private sector, Singapore is in a great position to spearhead this initiative. “In today’s climate, it’s imperative that we come together to offer our expertise and resources and help in the fight against COVID-19,” Huub adds. “We look forward to collaborating with government agencies and healthcare institutions globally to utilize our manufacturing resources and help those who need them the most.”