LEO Lane was honored twice in the last month. IDC named LEO Lane as one of IDC’s Innovators, which according to the report are: “vendors… that have innovative new technologies or groundbreaking business models that could accelerate their growth and potential market impact”. Around the same time our Co-Founder and VP Business, Lee-Bath Nelson, was interviewed by Nora Toure for Women in 3D Printing. We’re honored to be highlighted and wanted to share part of the interview below (the full interview here). We salute the efforts of Women in 3D Printing, promoting diversity in the Additive Manufacturing ecosystem.
Lee-Bath, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
First and foremost, I’m a software engineer. During my career, I’ve transitioned to the business side including being a partner in venture capital (VC) funds for over a decade. The first VC fund I was a partner at invested in 3D printing manufacturer Objet (today Stratasys). This is where my passion for the 3D printing industry was first ignited and I’ve been following this ecosystem ever since. A few years ago, I noticed a quiet shift to additive manufacturing (AM) for production. This led me, along with my business partners, Moshe Molcho, and Tessa Blokland, to establish LEO Lane in answer to the growing demand to protect intellectual property, maintain consistency and ultimately, uphold brand integrity when using AM.
Could you explain furthermore what LEO Lane is and the services that you are providing?
LEO Lane offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that empowers industrial manufacturers (we call them brands) to securely manage AM, anywhere, any time. Our solution enables corporations to scale-up production while protecting their intellectual property, securing digital assets and enforcing consistency and control of quality and quantity of the items produced, each and every time. LEO Lane recognizes the importance of collaborating with best-of-breed ecosystem players to deliver a seamless end-to-end, secure solution to customers. Right now, we’re collaborating with many players including the likes of SAP, Materialise, and GE.
What are some of the main challenges that your solution resolves?
LEO Lane resolves the risks that come together with the use of 3D printing/ AM in production. It’s important to remember that, more so than traditional manufacturing, AM is susceptible to production inconsistencies that can easily happen unintentionally because of human error or intentionally from malice or unaligned goals. Mistakes happen. The wrong material could inadvertently get loaded onto a 3D printer, or the settings on that printer accidentally miss-set.
These are critical issues that large, Fortune 500 companies worry about, including their executive management. At the end of the day, regardless of whether such scenarios arise by accident or not, brands cannot afford to produce defective parts that will ultimately fail. Even if those parts are being produced via an intermediary, it’s ultimately the brand itself that is at risk and certainly, none of those with whom we’re working are willing to take that kind of gamble.
Our company offers an automatic and seamless mechanism to avoid this eventuality. Using our solution companies have the assurance that their IP is safeguarded, their consistency is enforced, along with the added bonus of tracking the aforementioned along with evidence of compliance.
How did you come to build the company?
Having tracked the ecosystem for many years, and with 3D printing making inroads into production, I noticed there may be a commercial issue that would hinder the adoption of AM due to executive concerns. Thus, LEO Lane was born to address these problems and eliminate this roadblock.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
For me, additive manufacturing is most impressive as an enabler of distributed manufacturing. Unlike traditional manufacturing, this is where the raw materials and fabrication process are decentralized, with the final product being manufactured close to the end customer. This reinvigorates the manufacturing market locally, close to the demand and allows all sizes of manufacturing companies to thrive once more, including the smaller ones providing local services. This has a huge ripple effect in local communities.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
The AM industry is fast-paced, innovative, and collaborative. three things I appreciate and enjoy. In addition, I believe AM improves our global future: reducing waste, lowering emissions due to less shipping, etc. are all good things and yet another reason it’s a wonderful time to be involved in this technology!
How would you like to see the 3D printing market evolve?
I would like to see companies leverage AM beyond the current cost savings and efficiencies. For example, in conjunction with us, AM enables the creation of new business models. It can generate new revenues and potentially new offerings that were not previously available.
In your opinion, how can we encourage more women to become involved with 3D printing?
Visibility is essential. I believe if more senior women spoke publicly in a professional capacity (unrelated to being a woman) this will empower others to recognize the shift in female positions in this industry. Whether it’s as a keynote speaker at conferences or tradeshows or as a participant in mixed panel sessions, it is important that the panel topic is professional, not gender or diversity-driven. After all, researchers have clearly shown that role models in a professional capacity have a definitive effect on the next generation’s perceptions and aspirations.
A big thank you to Women in 3D printing and Nora Toure. All the photos in this post were taken by Lee-Bath Nelson at tradeshows throughout the past year. For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.