Trade Show Roundup: New York to Atlanta

Proto Labs HQ is a little quieter than usual as we attend several trade shows this week. Here’s a quick look at where we’ll be:

Meet up with us at Booth 4419 at LIGHTFAIR

We were excited to make our debut at LIGHTFAIR on Tuesday at the Javits Center in New York. The international event, which runs through tomorrow afternoon, is the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference. It includes educational courses for attendees and offers them the opportunity to look at high-end designs and cutting-edge lighting technology. We’ll be at booth 4419 through the remainder of the show discussing our new optical liquid silicone rubber (LSR) material that benefits lighting applications. Continue reading

Q & A with Proto Labs’ Rob Bodor in Electronic Design

Rob Bodor, Proto Labs’ VP and GM, Americas

*Excerpt courtesy of Bill Wong and Electronic Design

Turning an idea into a product is more than just hacking some hardware and software together. It’s easier to develop a prototype with 3D printers, but many other techniques and methodologies are more appropriate for some applications. Likewise, turning from a prototype to production can be a challenge.

Along those lines, Proto Labs offers a range of production and design services, and maintains extensive production facilities to deliver any number of parts for a given design. I spoke with Rob Bodor about some of Proto Labs’ services and what they bring to the table.

Wong: How did Proto Labs get started, and what kind of services does it offer today?

Bodor: Proto Labs was founded as the ProtoMold Company by Larry Lukis in 1999, a self-professed computer geek and entrepreneur. Previously, Larry was the founder of a successful company that sought to design a better printer. He was frustrated by the time, cost, and manual labor involved in getting injection-molded parts, so he decided to develop software that automated the injection molding processes he needed to create his prototypes.

Read the complete article at Electronic Design.

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 QP1-250 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:

Continue reading