In our continuing “Behind-the-Scenes at Rize” series, we’re profiling Rize Co-founder, Leonid Raiz.
Leonid Raiz is a man of many talents and hobbies, including hiking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing, bicycling and escaping to his New Hampshire lake house. A legend in the world of 3D modeling software, it’s fair to say that Leonid impacted 3D printing from its very beginning. After all, he is the architect of Pro/Engineer 3D computer aided design (CAD) software. Pro/Engineer pioneered modern MCAD software and Leonid wrote the initial STL file output in just a few days. STL files are still used as the primary input for 3D printers today.
Leonid graduated Magna Cum Laude in applied mathematics from the prestigious Saint Petersburg University in the former Soviet Union and spent the first years of his career working in the field of fluid analysis, as it applies to the design of turbines. This is when he first became involved in the field of CAD. He immigrated to the US in 1980 and continued working in CAD, first at Computervision and then at Prime Computer.
In 1986, Leonid took advantage of the virtually unlimited opportunities available in the US and joined a small group of entrepreneurs with a great idea and sought venture capital to implement it. The resulting company, Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), created a product that revolutionized Mechanical Computer Aided Design, gained considerable market success and employed thousands. Leonid led PTC’s Geometric Modeling Group and then became Senior Vice President of R&D. Over time, he headed up all aspects of PTC engineering.
Leonid left PTC in 1997 to found a new company, Revit Technology Corporation, to create a new software system for architects and engineers that would dramatically improve how buildings are designed and constructed. He led the development of the Revit’s product, which received widespread praise and attracted enthusiastic customers. This was a pivotal event in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, completely transforming the industry and how buildings are designed and constructed.
Autodesk, Inc., the dominant vendor in this space, recognized the strength and potential of Revit technology and acquired the company in 2002, incorporating it into its family of offerings. Leonid continued on as Revit’s Vice President, leading the Revit product group at Autodesk until 2004. Today, Revit dominates the US building design software market. For example, Revit was the main tool used by architects and engineers who designed the new World Trade Center tower in NYC.
After leaving Autodesk, Leonid became involved in a number of small software projects in collaboration with various research organizations and universities. In the spring of 2013, his interest in 3D printing, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit, pulled Leonid out of semiretirement and led him to Rize. “I was looking for action and 3D printing was related to my area of expertise,” said Leonid. A mutual friend introduced him to Rize Founder and President, Eugene Giller and, said Leonid, “I saw an opportunity for me to solve interesting problems and be creative.” He co-founded Rize and currently leads the company’s software development efforts, addressing the limitations still present in many 3D design systems. His goal is to hide from users the task of dealing with geometric complexities and make Rize Software so easy to use, it's as simple as clicking ‘print.’ Says Leonid, “Rize Software controls the APD (Augmented Polymer Deposition) process at the voxel level, enabling our unique support release and color capabilities, among other things.”
Leonid was also instrumental in raising funding for Rize and helping to define the technical capabilities for the Rize One 3D printer through discussions with his network of expert CAD and 3D printer users.
What’s next for this industry pioneer and serial entrepreneur? Says Leonid, “I like what I do and enjoy seeing my contribution making a difference in practical applications. Why would I want to change that?”