How a USC Student Startup Became the Industry Leader – USC Viterbi

A SprintRay night guard

SprintRay is a primary provider of 3-D printers that let dentists to rapidly make personalized products like evening guards and dentures. Image/SprintRay

When two USC industrial and systems engineering graduates launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, minor could they have acknowledged that in 5 short years the 3-D printing enterprise they established would turn into a leader in the dental marketplace.

Just about every human mouth is totally exclusive. When dentists need to have personalized in good shape health care gadgets and solutions for their clients, these as dentures, nightguards, crowns, products and aligners, they generally should outsource to external laboratories, which then craft the custom made gadgets to each individual patient’s measurements. This benefits in high-priced lab costs and months of wait-time for the affected individual. But what if dentists could build these goods in-residence, immediately and affordably?

This was the possibility that SprintRay co-founders Amir Mansouri (Ph.D. Manufacturing Engineering ’16) and Jasper Jing Zhang (Ph.D. ISE ’09) observed when they pivoted their organization from a manufacturer of very affordable desktop 3-D printers to a dedicated dental gadget innovator.

SprintRay has developed to turn out to be the major supplier of dental 3-D printers in dental places of work.  The organization also maintains near ties to the Daniel J. Epstein Division of Industrial and Devices Engineering. Along with Mansouri and Zhang, enterprise president Erich Kreidler and director of operations Kazuo Takeda also lecture inside the office. The team also performs with professor of industrial and units engineering Yong Chen on IP through the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

Mansouri explained 3-D printing was a purely natural in shape inside of the dental market, so he and his staff regarded as the possibility of creating targeted 3-D printing technological innovation for that sector, to develop components on desire for clients.

“It was a vision that seemed difficult 4 a long time ago, but that’s the truth now,” Mansouri explained. “Now hundreds of medical doctors have several of our models in their dental practices. They are printing sections for patients—prosthetic enamel, evening guards, dentures—while the individual is sitting down in the chair.”

Amir Mansouri and the SprintRay team

Amir Mansouri (foreground) and group at the 1st SprintRay business when the business was newly launched. Image/SprintRay

The technological know-how is also making it possible for dentists to agenda much less visits for their clients. Kreidler claimed that if individuals wanted dental medical procedures, they normally expected a surgical guide to be manufactured from an imprint of their mouth, a procedure that would consider weeks from a lab and would price hundreds of pounds.

“Now the doctor can 3-D print although the affected individual is sitting there, so the affected person does not require to arrive back again a few weeks later on, after enduring that suffering,” Kreidler said. “Also, from an operational point of view, this 3-D printed variation is only $4 really worth of elements.”

Mansouri done his Ph.D. at USC Viterbi College of Engineering, functioning with Louise L. Dunn Professor in Engineering, Berok Khoshnevis, on his NASA-funded investigation into 3-D printing in place. It was significant-degree innovation that influenced Mansouri, and shown how USC Viterbi analysis could have a profound influence on humanity.

But Mansouri said he usually experienced an entrepreneurial streak.

“Ever considering the fact that I was 13 or 14 several years old, I was purchasing points and then selling them – I preferred the hustle.”

In 2016, though Mansouri was still a student, he and his crew introduced a Kickstarter for an inexpensive desktop 3-D printer. The campaign was a runaway good results. It was a Kickstarter employees pick and elevated around $400,000, enabling the team to start the startup.

Need from industry was also heating up, with providers this sort of as Lockheed Martin and GE buying the early devices for avionics, and Disney and Marvel getting equipment for use in establishing custom components for their Spiderman and The Lion King franchises.

But before long the group understood that by concentrating on a person sector and tailoring their skills to it, they could have a more powerful differentiator in the market place in comparison with other 3-D printer companies. The dental marketplace was the ideal match.

The SprintRay machines use a 3-D printing system that builds levels with a liquid polymer and UV mild. Immediately after the section has been digitally developed, a dental equipment can be 3-D Printed in much less than an hour. Existing remedies rely on labs, which can get up to 3 weeks to produce the dental appliances.

The range of SprintRay 3-D printers and products. Image/SprintRay

The vary of SprintRay 3-D printers and items. Picture/SprintRay

“Different apps in dentistry demand various effectiveness, so we developed a portfolio of items for individuals unique applications,” Mansouri explained. “For example, one particular of our printer versions is a dental crown printer, and it’s ideal for implant circumstances and dentures. Another 1 is best for orthodontists and another is good for night guards.”

The products and solutions also contain a clean unit and post-processing gear that aids customers refine the completed devices. The method allows dentists to develop advanced custom made goods these kinds of as denture products in 30 minutes to an hour. The reaction from dental companies has been good.

“We’ve had a large amount of wonderful tales, these kinds of as how a grandma confirmed up at a dental workplace very last moment due to the fact she experienced a wedding ceremony coming up the subsequent day and experienced a damaged denture. The medical professionals had the means to replicate that denture on the location for her,” Mansouri mentioned.

“We have constructed an awesome ecosystem to empower electronic transformation in the dental business, Kreidler reported. “We have been fortunate to associate with market giants to combine technology that delivers a solid dental workflow supported by 3-D Printing.”

The current SprintRay team outside their Los Angeles facility. Image/SprintRay

The present-day SprintRay staff outside the house their Los Angeles facility. Image/SprintRay

Takeda explained that SprintRay was launched with industrial and methods engineering technique, which gave the business a strong small business gain.

“Our two founders, president and director are industrial engineers. The way we glance at troubles as prospects and realize the variance of a symptom alternatively than a challenge enables us to make program corrections faster and to steer clear of troubles right before they happen,” Takeda said.

Subsequent up, the staff is searching at strategies to collaborate with USC Viterbi pupils, as perfectly as additional international enlargement of their company. They just lately opened subsidiaries in Germany and Canada, as perfectly as functions in China, and are functioning with distributors around the world. The SprintRay team is at the moment utilizing Trojans from about the earth and are actively recruiting ISE and other engineering talent.

“So a minor bit of enthusiasm, a ton of eyesight, perseverance, resilience and assembly the ideal persons along the way have been all the variables were being included in having off the ground,” Mansouri stated.



Ellen C. McGowan

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