Charitable Giving, Social Impact, and Sustainability

We love giving back to the community and pride ourselves in being a responsible corporate citizen through the Protolabs Foundation, whose efforts are a sustaining investment in the future of the communities where our employees live and work. As part of our overall effort, we’ve also put in place several sustainability initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. Together it represents a growing commitment to our core ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) priorities.

Solar-powered Manufacturing

As part of our sustainability initiatives, we’ve implemented solar power to one of our flagship manufacturing facilities in Minnesota. To do that, we teamed with Impact Power Solutions (IPS) to install a large 700 kW system. The solar array will produce approximately 825,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually, enough to cover 20% of our electrical usage at that facility. It's the face of a more sustainable future in manufacturing.


Sustainability: Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

We’ve made substantial efforts to increase and improve our sustainability initiatives at Protolabs. Larger efforts to support this project include implementing solar power to one of our manufacturing plants, improvements to energy efficiencies (less power use), reducing material waste and improving recycling of scrap materials, and establishing an internal green team to oversee green initiatives within our offices and establish a sustainability charter for the company. In recognition of our efforts, we were presented with a 2021 Manufacturing Leadership Award for Sustainability by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Improving Energy Efficiencies
We've worked to reduce our energy and power outputs through a number of changes including switching to LED light fixtures, upgrading our water-cooling system, purchasing electronic molding presses instead of hydraulic, optimizing our HVAC system, the use of high-efficiency resin dryers and other efficiency projects.

Waste Reduction

Reducing Material Waste
We've implemented a machine monitoring system the enables us to reduce our scrap rate by approximately 2%. While this may appear as a small percentage, it amounts to significant cost savings and reduction in the burden on our natural environment. In our overall scrap reduction effort, we were able to cut our scrap rate in half from 2017-2019, and maintain that rate to present time.

Green Team

Establishing Internal Green Team
We have an internal Green Team that created the company's first sustainability charter and looks for internal opportunities to improve sustainability. This is an ongoing effort to find ways to improve sustainability internally and create sustainability events for employees to participate in.

Social Impact: Empowering Future Engineers through STEM Grants

Once a year, the Foundation considers proposals of up to $200,000 for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) programs in the metro areas of cities where we have facilities: Minneapolis/St. Paul; Raleigh, N.C.; and Nashua, N.H. As we work to make sure Protolabs continues to flourish and our industry remains robust, we are especially committed to supporting STEM programs, a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach, rather than teaching these four disciplines as separate subjects.

Grant proposals are evaluated based on:

  • Low-income and students of color reached and number of contact hours
  • Alignment with state K-12 academic standards
  • Evidence of previous success or a high likelihood of success and sustainability
  • Innovative, engaging, and focused program design
  • Level of support provided for families
Eligibility Requirements

All organizations must meet the following criteria to receive a contribution from the Foundation:

  • The organization must be a qualified 501(c)(3) public charity
  • The organization or project must serve the community at large
  • The organization’s primary purpose is not religious, except for social service activities
  • The organization does not provide any goods or services to Protolabs, Protolabs employees, or employees’ families in exchange for the financial contribution



$1.7 million
Maximum considered for STEM proposals
STEM grants awarded, 2021
Good Idea funding, 2021
Total employee hours volunteered, 2021
Individual Good Idea award amount