Casting into the Shark Tank: Cool Idea! Award Winners Featured at Event

Logo credit to ABC

Starry-eyed entrepreneurs flocked to the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management Saturday April 25, 2015 for their chance to land on ABC’s Shark Tank. The private casting call was open to students, staff, faculty, alumni and Minnesota Cup participants who had the opportunity to pitch their product or business to the shows’ casting directors in hopes of advancing to the show. Continue reading

LSR Molding Gets Medical-Grade Silicone, Increases Size Envelope

The medical industry continues to grow and change, and Proto Labs is working to stay ahead of the curve with our capabilities by making some significant enhancements to our Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) molding process. The most recent updates include the addition of medical-grade QP1-2XX LSR to our material options and the ability to produce larger LSR parts. Continue reading

11 Reasons Why Launching a Crowdfunding Campaign is Valuable

By Joel Townsan, creator of the Flipout Screwdriver

When my crowdfunding campaign failed, I was pretty devastated. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong — my Flipout Screwdriver had just won the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, had gotten tons of press coverage and people really liked the video (not to mention the product). Yet, I fell short, raising only $17,000 of the $50,000 goal I needed to move forward. I’ll admit, the product was priced a little high ($130 compared to most electric screwdrivers that go for $30 to $50 in stores), but I still couldn’t understand what went wrong. I had spent six weeks emailing every gadget magazine, tech blog and DIY forum I could find, but was somehow unable get my project into the coveted “Popular Products” category on Kickstarter — a section on the site that can seemingly make or break a product overnight. I thought it signaled the end of Flipout. Fortunately, it was just the beginning.

The Flipout cordless driver has a 360-degree range of motion with 380 possible configurations.

In addition to simply raising capital, there are a lot of bonuses to running a crowdfunding project that can actually benefit an inventor more in the long run. When the Kickstarter clock expired, I thought my project had failed, but really, it was the beginning of a crazy roller coaster ride that would result in a DRTV deal with Lowe’s — one of the largest big box retailers in the world. Regardless of the success or failure of a Kickstarter project, there’s a lot of good that can come from the campaign. It’s kind of like running a marathon; it takes months of training and then you run like you’ve never run before, but once you cross that finish line, it can be life-changing. Thus, my excitement crowdfunding.

Here are 11 reasons why every inventor and entrepreneur should consider a crowdfunding campaign:

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Just Press Play for a Tour of Injection Molding

Our short video series continues with a look at the three different injection molding processes available at Proto Labs. See how we manufacture plastic, metal and liquid silicone rubber prototypes and low-volume production parts so fast.


Use CNC machining more? Take a spin through one of our high-speed mills. And if you’re curious as to how we’re able to turn your 3D CAD model into real parts in only a few days, check out our Art to Part video.

White Paper: Rapid Manufacturing for Medical Devices and Components

Our comprehensive white paper about prototyping and low-volume production for the medical industry highlights the things that should be taken into consideration when in the midst of developing new medical devices. Read how our three quick-turn processes: additive manufacturing, injection molding and CNC machining can help bring products to market fast.
Discover the benefits of working with a rapid manufacturer on medical prototyping and production with our free white paper.