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Locking it in: Mitigating the risks of additive manufacturing

Author : Lee-Bath Nelson, Co-Founder and VP Business at LEO Lane.

02 March 2020

With new frontiers constantly being pushed, few would deny that the opportunities presented by 3D printing/additive manufacturing are aplenty – including possibilities around virtual inventories and even on-demand manufacturing. That said, how do the big brands seize such opportunities while protecting their intellectual property (IP), maintaining consistency, producing best-of-breed repeatable parts and products, and, ultimately, upholding their brand integrity?

DPA caught up with Lee-Bath Nelson, Co-Founder and VP Business at LEO Lane, who answered our questions on these very issues. 

Can you start by giving our readers a quick overview of who LEO Lane is and what your company does?

LEO Lane enables industrial manufacturers – I’m going to call them brands – to securely manage consistent additive manufacturing (AM), anywhere any time. That’s to say that we empower these companies to scale production in AM by protecting their IP, securing digital assets and enforcing repeatable control over the quality and quantity of their parts and products each time they are produced.

Aren’t the brands already ensuring consistency and repeatability in manufacturing, themselves?

To some extent, but the reality is that repeatability is hard to achieve since it’s relatively easy for consistency to be compromised, even by mistake. One of the benefits of AM is its ability to enable on-demand production via virtual inventories. However, this means dealing with digital assets that must be protected as they are being used. Sending a printable file instantly creates issues around security of the file itself and IP protection. If your IP isn’t protected, then the file can be intercepted and the part vulnerable to change or leakage. This threatens the brand’s reputation as well as consistency in quality and could lead to it being produced in an inferior or incompatible way (e.g., cheaper material or inferior 3D printing technology) than it should be in order to perform to expectations.
Ultimately, no company in the world wants to have their reputation ruined or their brand threatened. And that’s where we come in.

Read the full article in the March issue of DPA.

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