After forty successful years in the CAD/CAM and Additive Manufacturing industry, Lee Dockstader retired in March of 2022. The day after his retirement, Lee took a moment with our AM Voices podcast to reflect on his inspirational career and share the wisdom of the journey.
Wisdom that sparked from beginning his own engineering start up to joining HP and then gaining international experience with 3D Systems. To his return with HP and his lessons from engaging the global product development process to grow Additive Manufacturing across verticals including Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Dental, Life Sciences, Consumer and Retail.
Thank you Lee and cheers, to a well-deserved and active retirement!
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Adam Penna (00:01):
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Adam Penna (00:23):
Hello. Welcome everybody to another episode of AM Voices. Today I’m happy to have joining me today, Lee Dockstader, a globally experienced engineer focused on vertical market development for production applications in 3D printing and he’s joining us from Vancouver, Washington. Lee, welcome.
Lee Dockstader (00:39):
Thanks for having me.
Adam Penna (00:40):
Yeah. Well it’s good to have you here and we should definitely commemorate the day that we have here. This is the post last day over there at HP. So thank you for joining us today. Wow. You’re definitely on a new journey in your life and it’s good to have you here at this moment to talk about these things and to talk a little about where you’ve been and what’s been happening in 3D printing and with your experience, I’m just glad to have you here today. So thanks for joining us.
Lee Dockstader (01:07):
Great to be here.
Adam Penna (01:08):
Good deal. Now I know we talked about the beginning and how things get started. We talk about that a lot here, talking with people in the industry and you’ve been in engineering your whole career and you actually started out doing things in your own engineering and design firm. So talk a little bit about how that started in the beginning and what it looked like back then, getting that started and what you thought your career would look like getting things going.
Lee Dockstader (01:32):
Yeah. Well how many careers ended up like they thought they would be at the beginning?
Adam Penna (01:36):
Lee Dockstader (01:37):
So I was [inaudible 00:01:38] I wanted to be a fighter pilot because my uncle sat me in his F-4 Phantom when I was six years old.
Adam Penna (01:42):
Lee Dockstader (01:44):
Hooked me. So that was what I was going to do. Got accepted into the Air Force Academy, but they didn’t have any openings that year so they sent me to West Point instead.
Adam Penna (01:53):
Ah. Nice. Nice. Well happens. That’s not a bad deal.
Lee Dockstader (01:58):
And the fallback was to be an architect. So I was taking lots of drafting classes and then I found out to be an architect you actually had to freehand draw like an artist.
Adam Penna (02:09):
Lee Dockstader (02:09):
And I had no skill whatsoever in artistry. So then, all right, I’ll be an engineer, make a bunch of money, and buy my own plane or build my own plan. So I bought drawings for long, easy, build it yourself thing. And then one Thanksgiving at my dad’s house, he was complaining about some equipment in his lab and how expensive it was. He had an orthodontic lab.
Adam Penna (02:34):
Lee Dockstader (02:35):
And a brazing machine that would braze wires together with silver. And I said, “Well, I’m almost an engineer. Let me take a look at it.” So I took it apart and said, “I could do this.” And like everybody’s advice, the best time to start a company is on your first order.
Adam Penna (02:54):
Lee Dockstader (02:54):
And so, “All right dad. I’ll make these for you, but you have to buy all the consumables from me.” And each little weld required one of these electrodes. So off started Dockstader Engineering Design and I just ran into the company that distributes these and they’re still selling them to this day, 40 years later.
Adam Penna (03:16):
Lee Dockstader (03:19):
Yeah. So I was at a lab show, it was my last job at HP. And I ran into this company that was still distributing those brazing machines. So-
Adam Penna (03:30):
Lee Dockstader (03:30):
Adam Penna (03:30):
Lee Dockstader (03:30):
Adam Penna (03:31):
Lee Dockstader (03:32):
Yeah. So just because I took drawing, I was attractive for semiconductor design because all the path traces and stuff that you have to do for semiconductor design. So I ended up working for TRW Semiconductors working my way through college. It was video amplifiers.
Adam Penna (03:51):
Lee Dockstader (03:53):
Used all my drafting type of background. But they were video amplifiers and so there was tons and tons of video test equipment and guess who that was from? HP.
Adam Penna (04:05):
Lee Dockstader (04:06):
So I got to love the HP test equipment stuff. So anyway. Ended up interviewing for HP. Didn’t get the job because it was hardcore R and D at one of their divisions, but they said, “Hey. You’d be a really good field engineer.” And at the time I had no idea what that was and basically it was sales. Back then to sell for HP you had to be electrical engineer. So I go, “No, no. I’m a real engineer. I’m going to go do engineering.” So a year later I was working for the first company doing satellite scrambling on [HPO 00:04:42]. So I worked on some of their electronics and ended up calling the guy that I interviewed with and I said, “You know what? They’re putting me at all the trade shows because I was better with people than I was the technical stuff.”
Adam Penna (04:54):
Lee Dockstader (04:55):
So if I’m coming to do sales I might as well do it for HP and he goes, “Hey. We just happen to have an opening in San Diego. Why don’t you go talk to the guys?” And so I talked to them at a bar in Carlsbad, California and they offered me a job on the spot and that started the journey.
Adam Penna (05:13):
Lee Dockstader (05:14):
Yeah. So it’s-
Adam Penna (05:15):
That’s a heck of a journey there in the beginning, that’s for sure. And I know you mentioned a bit about drawing back then and I know for my own career also, we were still drawing on drafting boards with pencils in the beginning. So I want to clarify that, just this is prior to having all the wonderful tools that we have on the CAD side. It was a different world, but it was definitely what attracted me to it also. I started out on the design side and was drawing back in high school and then to bring the pencil drawing down into a mechanical engineering side of it was a struggle because I was used to more freeform and then having to actually learn the techniques of being on a board and drawing that way was a big jump.
Adam Penna (05:57):
But little while later I got to see the CAD world. So yeah. It’s all part of the journey there when you look at how things built up going along in your career. That’s awesome. So talk a little bit about that and what you got into on the design side. Was that side of it fun for you? Like when you ended up going over to HP, what was that bridge that kind of said, “Okay. I’ve been doing my own stuff for a while. It’s time for me to jump aboard with HP and kind of push things forward.”
Lee Dockstader (06:25):
Yeah. So another job I had in college was I was a draftsman’s for the UCLA hospital making all the room changes.
Adam Penna (06:32):
Oh cool. Yeah.
Lee Dockstader (06:33):
So T squares, drafting boards, and at West Point I’ve done a little bit of CAD with mainframe and terminals.
Adam Penna (06:43):
Lee Dockstader (06:44):
And so I suggested at the UCLA hospital they get into CAD, but that was a little early. Late ’70s.
Adam Penna (06:49):
Lee Dockstader (06:51):
And then ended up working for HP for test and measurement and went and called on the company that I was working at before, sold them a bunch of audio test equipment, and it turns out within HP they had a mechanical test special group.
Adam Penna (07:10):
Lee Dockstader (07:10):
So I was more mechanical than any of the other electrical engineers. And so they recruited me into that route for vibration analysis and that kind of stuff. And then when HP got into CAD in the mid ’80s, they recruited the mechanical test people to do the CAD because, again, we were more mechanical than all the other electrical engineers. And so that’s how I got into CAD cam, in what? ’85.
Adam Penna (07:34):
Lee Dockstader (07:35):
And then in ’89 HP sent me to Hong Kong to run the CAD cam for the Pacific [Print 00:07:42]. I was there for three years and then when I got back, HP decided to get out of CAD cam business.
Adam Penna (07:48):
Lee Dockstader (07:50):
And I was going to look for another job within HP. Matter of fact, I interviewed in Barcelona when they moved the big pen plotter division to Barcelona. So I said, “Wait, wait. Let me get this straight. My job career is going to be San Diego, Hong Kong, Barcelona, San Diego.”
Adam Penna (08:09):
Lee Dockstader (08:10):
Sign me up.
Adam Penna (08:11):
Great places to hang out for a while, that’s for sure.
Lee Dockstader (08:15):
So they sent me when I was 29 to Hong Kong and I actually met and married my wife when I was in Hong Kong.
Adam Penna (08:20):
Oh, congratulations. That’s awesome.
Lee Dockstader (08:25):
So anyway. So I didn’t get the job in Barcelona because the guy in San Diego decided to move. Came back to San Diego and did a CAD cam for a couple years until they sold the division. Then a little software company that was doing research for HP came up with a first Windows based 3D modeling package.
Adam Penna (08:46):
Lee Dockstader (08:47):
It was right when Windows 95 was launched. And they flew me out and I looked at it and I go, “Darn. I’m going to have to figure out something else to do because $50,000 workstations aren’t going to be sustainable for much longer once Windows comes out.” So I went and joined this little company that started the first Windows based [inaudible 00:09:06] package and we had the chance to be rich and famous. We got the famous part for a little bit.
Adam Penna (09:11):
Well not 102, right? Yeah.
Lee Dockstader (09:16):
And the owner ended up being rich. He just sold his company to 3D Systems for 250 million. So-
Adam Penna (09:21):
Lee Dockstader (09:21):
He ended up getting the rich part eventually. But joined that company and then my name came up on somebody’s radar at 3D Systems saying, “Hey. He knows 3D and he knows Asia.” And they asked me to go back to Asia for another seven years.
Adam Penna (09:37):
Lee Dockstader (09:37):
So I was out there and I started the operation out there, set up companies in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and built it up to about 20% of 3D’s business. And then they moved me back to California to take over the [inaudible 00:09:56] product line.
Adam Penna (09:56):
Wow. Now you done something that we hear a lot of nowadays too and it’s been around for a while, obviously globally diverse, being able to work in many different environments, but that’s a reality for you. You’ve done that and that’s not an easy feat, especially being over in Asia and building up things as far as a business goes over there. So what were some of the differences you could talk about or share with us? Some of the hurdles you had to overcome and things that you had to do to actually get embedded into that whole culture.
Lee Dockstader (10:26):
Yeah. I was over there for a total of 10 years. It was-
Adam Penna (10:29):
Lee Dockstader (10:30):
Pretty immersive, but you just have to accept that things that are different aren’t right and wrong. I mean, there was a couple of situations I was in, it was like, “Hmm. Never thought that would’ve happened, but what the heck?” As long as you’re open to not label something right or wrong, it’s just different. If you can’t do that, it’d be it be tough. So we got pretty flexible.
Adam Penna (11:00):
Yeah. That’s a long time and a lot of flexibility in there, a lot of different circumstances as you get used to things. Now you’re talking about, was that the same time that you said you went over to 3D Systems? Is that what I heard? Back in ’97.
Lee Dockstader (11:15):
[inaudible 00:11:15] first.
Adam Penna (11:16):
Still at HP. Okay.
Lee Dockstader (11:18):
HP in ’89 through ’92. And actually I was there on my interview during the Tiananmen Square thing. So that was-
Adam Penna (11:26):
Lee Dockstader (11:26):
Adam Penna (11:26):
Lee Dockstader (11:27):
Adam Penna (11:28):
Yeah. Wow. What a time to be there. Yeah.
Lee Dockstader (11:31):
So Tiananmen Square was going on and I was in a hotel and a hurricane went through Hong Kong and they came in and taped the windows in the hotel and there was a million people out on the street protesting, leaning sideways into-
Adam Penna (11:42):
Lee Dockstader (11:43):
Wind. Do I really want to do this? And actually I said, “No.”
Adam Penna (11:48):
Lee Dockstader (11:49):
And my boss came up after I came back from the interview and he says, “Well when are you going?” And I go, “Well I’m not. I did a spreadsheet, waiting factors. Here’s the pros and cons.” And it says, “No don’t go.” And he goes, “Oh, you’re going to go.” And I go, “No. Didn’t you just see the spreadsheet?” And he goes, “Well, you’re going to go.” And I go, “Why?” He says, “You’re 29. If you don’t go, you’ll regret it the rest of your life.”
Adam Penna (12:13):
Lee Dockstader (12:15):
And that got me. And all the things I was worried about, the division being dismantled and sold off, all the things I was, all happened. But, a couple years later 3D Systems called up and said, “Hey. Go back and start the operation.” So it was like-
Adam Penna (12:32):
Lee Dockstader (12:33):
It all worked out, but it’s just weird how the coincidences happened.
Adam Penna (12:37):
Yeah. So you were over there when you accepted the job with 3D Systems? Is that correct?
Lee Dockstader (12:42):
I come back and I was in San Diego-
Adam Penna (12:44):
Lee Dockstader (12:45):
And then I moved to Ithaca, New York and then we moved the headquarters from Ithaca to Atlanta.
Adam Penna (12:50):
Lee Dockstader (12:50):
And then went back from Atlanta back to Hong Kong. So this is-
Adam Penna (12:54):
Lee Dockstader (12:57):
[inaudible 00:12:57] moves.
Adam Penna (12:57):
Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of moves in there and some similarities there. I’m originally from Buffalo, New York and I lived in Atlanta for a couple years. So kind of in my history also [inaudible 00:13:08] couple different places, but definitely never over in Hong Kong or any of that. So that’s really cool. A lot of great experience there. Now I know you were saying joining 3D Systems was it back in ’97. You were there for a long time as another long stint at 3D systems. You were working a lot in healthcare, correct, when you were on the 3D Systems side.
Lee Dockstader (13:29):
Yeah. Actually I was just kind of reminiscing with the guys from Materialize.
Adam Penna (13:33):
Lee Dockstader (13:33):
Actually I needed some implants when I was in Hong Kong in 2001.
Adam Penna (13:38):
Lee Dockstader (13:40):
And my dentist was worried about how deep the infection was in my jaw. And so he went the big donut, GE CT scanner.
Adam Penna (13:48):
Lee Dockstader (13:48):
And I go, “Who’s got a CT scan?” And so I sent it to Materialize and they made me a jaw model and I printed it out and-
Adam Penna (13:53):
Lee Dockstader (13:58):
That was the early days in medical. And then-
Adam Penna (14:01):
Yeah. That’s awesome.
Lee Dockstader (14:03):
I moved back to headquarters. So I’d done sales my whole life.
Adam Penna (14:08):
Lee Dockstader (14:08):
And they offered me the spot back at the factory and it’s like, “I don’t know.” Anybody in 3D Systems who went back to the factory, nobody made it more than two years.
Adam Penna (14:18):
Lee Dockstader (14:18):
Exited. So I go, “Oh. Well, give it a try.” And when I got back, they was just starting the transition for hearing aids to go 3D printing.
Adam Penna (14:28):
Lee Dockstader (14:29):
And not too many people know it, but probably 95 plus percent of all hearing aids are 3D printed and have been for more than 15 years.
Adam Penna (14:38):
Wow. Wow. I did not realize, even knowing that there was a big percentage of that were, I didn’t know it was that large. That’s amazing. That’s really cool.
Lee Dockstader (14:45):
And it started in like 2003, 2004. So I came back right in the middle of that takeoff and 3D Systems rode that and basically owned the manufacturing business for hearing aids. But it was all based upon the software.
Adam Penna (15:03):
Lee Dockstader (15:03):
Yet at the time, two grad students in Northern Europe came up with 3Shape. And so 3Shape started in the audio business. Owned that and then now they own the dental business. They’ve got about 2000 people in home and [inaudible 00:15:22] alone. But yeah. I was with them when they were 12 people.
Adam Penna (15:24):
Wow. Yeah, no, that’s amazing. Something that you’ve been doing, which is really the crux of all of additive manufacturing is looking at production applications for all industries, and not only one industry, but all industries and developing those applications means finding them and working with companies to make sure that it’s a viable production process. So talk about that because that’s really what an additive manufacturing is, is taking something in the 3D printing world and turning it into a production process that can be used inside of manufacturing. How is that for you and of all the different applications in industries, can you talk a little bit about what happened in some of them and how that affected you as far as learning and moving on to find more production applications for people?
Lee Dockstader (16:13):
So it’s pretty interesting. At the same time, Align technology was just starting up in about ’99.
Adam Penna (16:19):
Lee Dockstader (16:19):
Matter of fact, I had some pre-IPO stock in 1999 of align.
Adam Penna (16:25):
Lee Dockstader (16:26):
Held it 10 years and it went from $10 a share to $20 a share. I doubled my money.
Adam Penna (16:31):
Lee Dockstader (16:31):
Adam Penna (16:33):
Lee Dockstader (16:34):
It recently hit 700.
Adam Penna (16:35):
Lee Dockstader (16:38):
But it took Align 10 years to get to $100 million and then it took them another 10 years to get to a billion.
Adam Penna (16:44):
Lee Dockstader (16:46):
And [inaudible 00:16:46] on a run rate for four billion. But the reason that all happened was 3D printing. There were two grad students at Stanford and they came up with the idea of 3D printing a sequence of dental arches and then you thermoform aligners over the top of them. And so way back when, they had bought a 3D system [inaudible 00:17:13] machine and kept it quiet what they were trying to do. And they just couldn’t get it to work for what they needed it for and then finally told 3D Systems and 3D Systems said, “Oh. We can do that.” They go, “Well it requires a bunch of changes in the machines.” And so anyway, they did a negotiation where they gave them some non-recurring engineering money, but also a purchase order is either 40 or 50 machines. And these are half million dollar machines.
Adam Penna (17:39):
Lee Dockstader (17:40):
The company was $90 million at the time. So just think about a 40 machine, half a million bucks each. It’s a 20 million order for a $90 million company.
Adam Penna (17:48):
Lee Dockstader (17:50):
Did that their attention at R and D? Oh yeah. And within a few months they ran it down and made it production. And so I got to be part of looking after Align for 20 years now.
Adam Penna (18:04):
Wow. That’s awesome.
Lee Dockstader (18:04):
And to see them. So none of that stuff actually makes it to production unless there’s really a workflow and a digital workflow the whole way. 3D printing is really a small part of the overall process. If you-
Adam Penna (18:19):
Lee Dockstader (18:19):
Look up Invisalign manufacturing wireless Mexico on YouTube, you see an old video of the entire process. And if you look at their investor relations stuff now, they feel pretty safe against attacks, even these direct to consumer ones because their workflow, everything from the digital inner oral scanner to automatically printing the shipping [inaudible 00:18:40], they’re up to a million parts a day.
Adam Penna (18:43):
Lee Dockstader (18:45):
More than all the other 3D printing stuff in the world combined.
Adam Penna (18:50):
Lee Dockstader (18:51):
A million [inaudible 00:18:51]. That’s production. And so none of that exists unless there’s patient capture information in the scan to the shipping label. All automated. If there’s any manual stuff in between at a million parts a day, won’t work.
Adam Penna (19:05):
That won’t happen. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the key to it also is looking at the automation side when you get into those production applications and fine tuning that as you go. That’s a heck of an application that’s been fine tuned over all those years and to see where it is now. I mean, what a beautiful application to see from cradle to now, fruition. It’s not anywhere close to grave yet. It’s still blossoming and growing
Lee Dockstader (19:33):
The consumer side is just picking up. So Smile Direct is kind of the most famous direct to consumer model.
Adam Penna (19:39):
Lee Dockstader (19:39):
And the sales rep that had that account for HP at the time was an ex 3D Systems sales rep. And I was living in Charlotte and they were in Tennessee and the sales rep went on his first call and he goes, “Lee, can you join me?” So I went with them and they wanted to buy two machines on the first visit.
Adam Penna (19:59):
Lee Dockstader (20:00):
But we wouldn’t sell them to because we were still in our early phases and we limited everybody to one.
Adam Penna (20:05):
Lee Dockstader (20:08):
Well the public number is they’ve got more than 50 now.
Adam Penna (20:12):
Lee Dockstader (20:15):
[inaudible 00:20:15] do 50,000 parts a day.
Adam Penna (20:16):
Wow. Wow. Is it another production? Is it a reseller or how does that work when they start expanding or scaling operations? Do they just come up with another partner or how does that work?
Lee Dockstader (20:33):
So true, large scale production needs the manufacturer to directly engage. So we did a direct deal with Smile Direct and helped them with their automation, helped them with their design, helped with unique ID development. So really true production is pretty hard to go through resellers for most companies because it-
Adam Penna (20:54):
Lee Dockstader (20:54):
Normally requires a combination of applications, engineers, R and D engineers, software, APIs to access the reliability information. True manufacturing takes a pretty darn serious engagement. And I haven’t seen any production ones … just trying to think about different ones. Maybe jewelry is distributed enough.
Adam Penna (21:22):
Lee Dockstader (21:22):
Well that typically goes through resellers, but it still requires an awful lot of involvement with the direct manufacturer.
Adam Penna (21:29):
Yeah. And I know behind you, you have a lot of great examples there. I could see that’s some really great stuff. Now you’ve done everything from like medical models to hearing aids and dental applications and prosthetics and prosthesis orthosis. What’s like an, I guess, one of your favorite applications you’ve seen other than obviously the hearing aids, but maybe let’s say like a medical model type of an application? Is there something that you could tell us about that was very interesting on your side to work with?
Lee Dockstader (22:02):
Sure. There’s kind of a new push, which is 3D printing at point of care for anatomical models.
Adam Penna (22:09):
Lee Dockstader (22:09):
Matter of fact, HP was one of the co-funding entities for a clinical study to determine the effectiveness of medical models. So right now there’s no reimbursement codes for anatomical models. So the College of Radiology and their RSNA, the Radiology Society of North America, started a directory for a study. And they’re two years into a three year study about the effectiveness of anatomical models. But there’s a lot of hospitals that are now 3D printing at point of care. So that’s 3D printing in the hospital.
Adam Penna (22:43):
Lee Dockstader (22:46):
Mayo Clinic is probably the lead. Dr. Morris.
Adam Penna (22:49):
Lee Dockstader (22:49):
And the stuff that we do is just unbelievable. If anybody wants to take a look at some of the latest and greatest, Dr. Morris is an active participant in Twitter. So look up-
Adam Penna (22:59):
Lee Dockstader (23:00):
Dr. John Morris at Mayo Clinic and you see wonderful stuff. Rady Children’s Hospital down in San Diego. Justin Ryan is doing some great stuff. The VA hospital is deeply now into 3D printing and point of care. Everything from anatomical models. Walter Reed’s a big 3D printing user, has been for probably 20 years and one of the more diverse and advanced printing at hospitals in the world. So it is being used quite well today, but with reimbursement codes I think it’ll really take off.
Adam Penna (23:37):
Yeah. Because then once the codes are in the systems, it’s simple as just pulling the code and dispersing it to where it needs to be put place and people use it that way very quickly. Just kind of like the GSA codes out there, governments service. Yeah. You get the code in there, you’re good to go because people just pull the code and then they order what they order. Well that-
Lee Dockstader (23:57):
Adam Penna (23:58):
What was that?
Lee Dockstader (23:59):
Surgical guide. Probably about 10% of knee replacements are using 3D printed personalized surgical guides.
Adam Penna (24:06):
Yeah. There’s a lot that goes into that also. I actually worked on an application that was reducing the amount of cost for robotics by having the guides in place. Obviously when you’re working with a robotic cut or anything that has to be done outside of the actual surgeon, there’s a lot of cost that goes with it. And there’s a lot that’s being replaced by looking at what can be done inside of 3D printing world with tooling and setting that up and being able to do that. Now those applications, you find them in both polymer for the tools and those type of things in metals for some of the implants and what’s happen there. So you’ve worked on both sides of metal and polymer, correct?
Lee Dockstader (24:48):
Adam Penna (24:50):
Yeah. So you’ve seen internal, external, everything in between. What are some of the cool internal applications you’ve seen in 3D printing?
Lee Dockstader (25:01):
Titanium spine spacers and all sorts of implants that have trabecular structure. That’s the bony-
Adam Penna (25:09):
Lee Dockstader (25:10):
Structure that the details of getting that to actually work is mind blowing. But there’s companies like Stryker that actually have commercial implementations of 3D printing in titanium with that trabecular structure and they’ve done lots of clinical presentations and the details of getting that structure right so that the bones grow in and the vascular structure grows in and it’s a successful implant that doesn’t have to be replaced and replacing an implant’s a messy case.
Adam Penna (25:44):
Yeah. That trabecular structure kind of looks like the inside of a bone, almost like the organic structure that you see that the body can then re-adhere to or … hey. There we go. Good example. There we go. Beautiful. And that’s an-
Lee Dockstader (25:59):
Adam Penna (25:59):
Tell us what that piece is there.
Lee Dockstader (26:05):
When I was at 3D Systems we stood up an online bone modeling system and you could order. So this one is for four implants. So there’s four missing teeth and rather than doing a bridge, they were going to do implants. But the bony ridge was pretty thin. And so they wanted some models to make that happen. And then they could actually determine the right place to put the screw in because they want it in the densest place at the right angle. And so they used anatomical models in that case to determine the right angle to put the screws in.
Adam Penna (26:41):
Lee Dockstader (26:42):
And then actually my dentist in Charlotte, he was a GP dentist, not an oral surgeon, but he was doing a lot of implant retained dentures. So it’s called all on four. So you put four screws in each jaw and then you bolt the dentures to those. That’s $20,000 an arch.
Adam Penna (26:59):
Lee Dockstader (27:00):
I mean, it’s $40,000 for a couple of those on the weekend is good revenue. And he was using the anatomical models to sell the treatment to his patients. And he went back to school and got certified to put implants in and hired an anesthesiologist and he’d do a couple of these on the weekend and he would use the anatomical model to actually sell the treatment to the patient.
Adam Penna (27:25):
Lee Dockstader (27:25):
It was quite remarkable.
Adam Penna (27:28):
Yeah. The model you showed, was that from a CT scan because it looked like an anatomical-
Lee Dockstader (27:33):
Adam Penna (27:33):
Model. Yeah. Okay. Cool. And it was the jaw and then the upper part. Yeah. There you go. Okay. Beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It actually looks like the scan itself now that I see it a little closer. Yeah. Pretty neat.
Lee Dockstader (27:47):
Yeah. So you take that from a grayscale DICOM stack from a CT scan.
Adam Penna (27:50):
Lee Dockstader (27:52):
Then you assign different colors to the different density. So the teeth come out wide and the bone comes out bone colored, veins and tissue come out red. But a lot of the modern medical imaging software can do that now.
Adam Penna (28:06):
Wow. Yeah. Now that’s a big thing too. Talk about the softwares out there. We’ve seen a big jump, especially in the last five years, but we can go back even further, but it just seems to be compounding the amount of things that can be done with the softwares, with the machines out there. What have you seen change, obviously for the better, some of the big leaps that you’ve seen in the software side of things?
Lee Dockstader (28:29):
Yeah. So when I do presentations about medical manufacturing, there’s been no implementation of production 3D printing without an end to end seamless software platform. So automatically create geometry based upon the conditions of whatever treatment they’re going through. Unless you have automatic creation in geometry, you’re never going to get to really production level implementations. And so if you look at the Align technology implementation, everything from the inner oral scan to the treatment planning to the doctor okay to the patient okay to the shipping to everything else, nothing is gone production unless it’s end to end software solution.
Lee Dockstader (29:16):
So we’ve been pitching that in the industry the entire time. And like I said, jewelry, clear aligners, a lot of crown and bridge, a lot of digital dentures. I just went to this dental lab show this last weekend and the report from 3Shape, just on the 3Shape, software alone, three and a half million cases of 3D printed digital dentures, up from a million and a half-
Adam Penna (29:43):
Lee Dockstader (29:43):
Adam Penna (29:44):
Lee Dockstader (29:44):
That growth, nuts. And it’s because it solved a problem in the industry. Denture is the most labor intensive dental device in the industry with the lowest margin rates and the highest amount of labor. And so 3D printing or 3D milling is an end to end solution for that, but you can’t print 3D stuff without 3D data. And then the other one that goes with that is he who owns the data wins.
Adam Penna (30:16):
He who knows what to do with the data wins, right. There’s so much data now and that’s a big part of what the software is doing and be able to actually take the data and do something that we need to be done with simulation, looking at different build processes, and seeing which one is the best without doing it physically. Those are great things that software is pushing forward. So it’s good to see that side of it and I always like to hear new things that are happening because it blows my mind. There’s always something going on in software. That’s just like, “What? Okay. About time. Great to see it.” But yeah. So you talked a little bit about what happened along your path of 3D printing there and you were getting into a little bit more of what’s going on in the future, but can you give us what your outlook on the future of additive manufacturing looks like?
Lee Dockstader (31:03):
It’s interesting. I was asked that same question kind of on my interview with HP like six years ago.
Adam Penna (31:09):
Lee Dockstader (31:11):
At 3D Systems, how did you come up with production applications? And they go, “You know, thinking back on it, 3D Systems never thought of any of the production applications and pretty much the same thing at HP.” You usually have some smart engineer that comes up with an idea, kind of matches the technology with whatever technology that you have.
Adam Penna (31:35):
Lee Dockstader (31:35):
And it’s 60, 70, 80% of a fit, but they still need 20% improvement or different or addition to it. And so then the vendor engages with either the end user software company or actually the end user manufacturer and they work on that last 20 or 30% to make it production production. And the same things happened over and over. Like the latest one that HP did was a production method called molded fiber. You know what that is? The recycle paper packaging.
Adam Penna (32:11):
Lee Dockstader (32:12):
So this was invented like 20 years ago in Napa Valley. A company called Regal Corporation. And they tried laser centering and the speed and the resolution just didn’t do the job, but everybody was really super interested in it. Instead of staying the steel screen to do your egg carton type packaging, we could actually 3D print the screen. And I saw some test samples.
Adam Penna (32:40):
Lee Dockstader (32:41):
Adam Penna (32:41):
Lee Dockstader (32:42):
Are sub millimeter holes with millimeter spacing.
Adam Penna (32:46):
Yeah. You’re holding it [crosstalk 00:32:48] looks like a sheet that you could see through basically and the holes are so small. I mean-
Lee Dockstader (32:52):
Adam Penna (32:53):
Yeah. That’s awesome. Beautiful.
Lee Dockstader (32:56):
That actually came up by mistake. Were working with a company to do a microphone cover and they had two different kinds of-
Adam Penna (33:03):
Lee Dockstader (33:04):
Covers either stainless steel screen or a spongy kind of mesh. And at the time our big machines weren’t working, they were still test beds. And so the test bed had a limited build size. So the R and D guys just shrunk down the stainless steel screen for the microphone cover and I looked at it and I go, “Oh. Oh. Molded fiber.”
Adam Penna (33:27):
Lee Dockstader (33:27):
Adam Penna (33:29):
Lee Dockstader (33:31):
I mean, molded fiber was actually done 20 years ago, but it never got commercialized because there was no technology that could do it. So I got the team back together. I tracked down people from 20 years before. We hired the guy that was at the company. He was a consultant for us for a while and we worked on it two or three years within HP. And I got the internal HP guys excited about it because we’re on a big green kick and sustainability kick. You don’t want styrofoam, you don’t want plastic packaging. So HP made a commitment to do more recycled paper packaging and low and behold, we came up with a whole team to do molded fiber production and actually we just bought a company in the UK-
Adam Penna (34:15):
Lee Dockstader (34:16):
That does replacing plastic bottles with molded fiber cardboard bottles.
Adam Penna (34:24):
Lee Dockstader (34:25):
It’s like, “Okay.”
Adam Penna (34:25):
Lee Dockstader (34:26):
Yeah. So I handed that over the team a couple of years ago and they’ve really, really run with it. And actually you can see this little part here. This was the first successful sample molded fiber and the team-
Adam Penna (34:45):
Oh. I saw [inaudible 00:34:46] you go.
Lee Dockstader (34:47):
They sent me a thank you letter because I told the guys, I was like, “Look. When you ever get your first kind of samples done, save them because there’s only one set of first samples.”
Adam Penna (34:58):
Lee Dockstader (34:58):
They saved me one. So that was pretty cool.
Adam Penna (35:01):
Yeah. It looks like the normal packing, if that’s where you printed it. It’s pretty interesting.
Lee Dockstader (35:08):
Because normally you have to it send to China and they have very skilled technicians that take stainless steel screen and cut it like a dress maker and then hammer it over the face of the tool and then weld it together.
Adam Penna (35:20):
Lee Dockstader (35:21):
Talk about labor intensive. So it takes a fair bit of time and there’s limitations to what you can do with it. With 3D printing, we could put embossed logos in there. You can do-
Adam Penna (35:32):
Lee Dockstader (35:32):
Screens on both sides. So once the really smart guys that knew molded fibers saw the technology-
Adam Penna (35:40):
Lee Dockstader (35:40):
They were off running. So I’m really excited about that finally taking hold and seeing that get to market.
Adam Penna (35:48):
Yeah. That’ll be exciting. That is a great application. Thanks for pointing that out. It was cool to see it too. And I know it’s been great having you here today and thank you for taking the time. Is there anything else you’d like to share while we have you here?
Lee Dockstader (36:02):
It’s all about the 3D data. And if anybody has an iPhone 10, 11, or 12, you can upload an application called action face from the apple store.
Adam Penna (36:13):
There you go.
Lee Dockstader (36:15):
And you can-
Adam Penna (36:16):
Hey. There he is. That’s a little Lee right there. Playing golf. Ready to go. Ready for retirement. Already enjoying it. That’s awesome. So you did that yourself? You did that one yourself that … no. Okay.
Lee Dockstader (36:29):
No. That’s [inaudible 00:36:30] a little start called action face.
Adam Penna (36:32):
Lee Dockstader (36:32):
And they took the face scanner that’s in the iPhone, 10, 11, or 12. There’s a really, really good face scanner on the phone. And they combined that with their background in gaming and toys. So they came up with dozens and dozens of selections of golfers, snowboarders, wedding cake toppers, even sorts of characters. So you just scan your face and then you pick your character and you pick your color scheme or your logos or your company stuff. So things like that, you’ll never see CAD. It’s an app that you combine your character together. So it’s-
Adam Penna (37:08):
Right. It’s jumping. It’s cutting out that middle phase of actual drawing the CAD. That’s another step out of the-
Lee Dockstader (37:16):
Yeah. Automatically creating geometry to 3D print. Same thing with eyewear. So scan your face and it will automatically create-
Adam Penna (37:26):
Yeah. Some nice frames that fit.
Lee Dockstader (37:28):
Custom 3D [inaudible 00:37:30] printed wood-ish texture.
Adam Penna (37:35):
Is that a little bit of peek that you were holding there? What was the wood texture? Was it a certain material? Just curious. Just geeking out on it a little bit.
Lee Dockstader (37:44):
Adam Penna (37:44):
Lee Dockstader (37:45):
So basically we took different textures like cork and you print these things out and people go, “Oh. What’s that new material?” And we’ve got a new cork 3D printed material and they go, “What?” Yeah, no, it’s just nylon.
Adam Penna (38:02):
Ah. Yep, yep, yep, yep. Yeah. Fooling them again. No. That looks awesome though. And again, thank you for bringing all those different models you have behind you because they’re a great visual tool to see what can be done. And generally, again, thanks for being here on AM Voices. It’s just been awesome to have you as a guest and look forward to you enjoying your retirement, but also keeping in touch with what’s going on on your side. I know that you’re still very involved in the industry so we’re glad to have you a part of it, even in retirement. So thanks for joining me today.
Lee Dockstader (38:38):
Thanks for having me.
Adam Penna (38:39):
All right, Lee. Well again, thanks for being a guest here on AM Voices and cheers to enjoying your retirement again and we’ll see you soon, Lee. Thank you so much.
Lee Dockstader (38:47):
Virtual cheers right back to you.
Adam Penna (38:49):
All right buddy. Take care. We’ll see you soon.
Lee Dockstader (38:50):
Adam Penna (38:52):
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