Proto Labs Foundation Supports STEM, Other Causes

’Tis the season of giving, and, at this time of year, we’re delighted to show how our employees’ generosity, through the Proto Labs Foundation, has supported the foundation’s targeted focus — science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education — and other charitable causes.

So far in 2015, thanks to the foundation’s Big Giving program, employee monetary and volunteer contributions, and the accompanying matching funds the foundation provides, more than $186,000 has been contributed to a variety of charitable organizations in Minnesota and North Carolina (for now, the foundation is available to U.S. employees of Proto Labs).

The Reve Academy in Minneapolis is one of several programs that receives funds from the Proto Labs Foundation.

The financial support is provided to nonprofit organizations that Proto Labs employees are passionate about, and through the Big Giving program for programs and initiatives that support STEM education. Large grants have included: Breakthrough Twin Cities, Code Savvy, Reve Academy, Minneapolis Community and Technical College Foundation, St. Catherine’s University, Hiawatha Academies, YWCA, High Tech Kids, Christo Rey Jesuit High School and Genesys Works.

Because the manufacturing industry needs future generations of diverse engineers and scientists, Proto Labs supports these educational programs to help bolster STEM interest and talent among youth.

In addition, we recognize the disparities in achievement between white students and students of color, and between low-income and higher-income students in measures of proficiency in STEM academic disciplines. The overall goal is that our large grants to organizations focus on transforming students’ interest in STEM fields and will provide those students with the resources and opportunities that will help foster and support this interest.

Beyond the STEM focus, employees are invited to contribute to charitable organizations through the foundation’s Good Ideas program and volunteering. The Proto Labs Foundation matches monetary and volunteer time investments to augment this giving. The foundation has organized structured opportunities to give back as well — earlier this fall, employees participated in helping build a Habitat for Humanity house.

Since 2014, the Proto Labs Foundation has provided nearly $350,000 in large grants to STEM-related education programs, and more than $450,000 overall.

TIPS WITH TONY: Prototyping with Soft Metals

Soft metals — aluminum, magnesium, brass, copper — are available in different grades at Proto Labs depending on the 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding service chosen. Quantities range from 1 to 5,000+ parts in 1 to 15 business days.

Aluminum engine bracket 3D printed through DMLS.

Aluminum
At Proto Labs, we use the industrial 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to build parts from soft (and hard) materials like aluminum.

DMLS-built aluminum provides parts with excellent strength-to-weight ratios, temperature and corrosion resistance, and provides good tensile, fatigue creep and rupture strength. With a tensile strength of 37.7 ksi (260 MPa) and a hardness of 47.2 HRB, for example, you are able to have parts produced in nearly any part geometry with features like internal channels or complex undercuts that can’t be manufactured through any other method. And, final parts are still up to 98% dense.

You can also get aluminum parts using CNC machining in 6061 and 7075 grades. 6061 can provide you with improved corrosion resistance and can be welded while 7075 provides you a part that has a higher tensile strength and is harder than 6061.

Do you need a prototype of an aluminum die-cast part? We can mimic aluminum die casting using our stereolithography (SL) process and SLArmor technology. SLArmor uses our DSM Somos (NanoTool) material, applying a nickel metal coating that gives the look and feel of metal without the added strength or weight.

 

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NEW JOURNAL: Pitting Manufacturing Processes Against One Another

In the cover story of our current issue of the Proto Labs Journal, we pit manufacturing processes against one another.

As you know, the manufacturing industry is peppered with prototyping and production processes that share some common attributes, but also some notable differences. Our manufacturing “bouts” explore how several of these processes — big and small — compare. The fight card includes:

  • Magnesium Injection Molding vs. Magnesium Die Casting
  • Stereolithography vs. Fused Deposition Modeling
  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering vs. CNC Machining vs. Metal Injection Molding

Beyond our cover story, read about Sean Doan, a long-time Proto Labs employee who is the go-to person in our R & D division; the latest in innovation and advanced technology we’ve mined from the Internet; and new service offerings at Proto Labs.

Read the full Journal now.

EYE ON INNOVATION: Cool corkscrew arrives in time for holiday parties

File this under having the right tool for the job.

The striking Zig Zag Corkscrew uses the original steel-press molds from the 1920s in France, and is a new, nickel-plated steel replica of those original, iconic, expanding French corkscrews.

Antique Zig Zag-brand corkscrews, which were invented in France and patented in 1919, continue to be sought out in Parisian flea markets and elsewhere by collectors and wine connoisseurs.

This new, updated Zig Zag blends modern functionality and classic design. It features a folding cork remover and a bottle opener, too, and will make opening your holiday vino a pleasure. Price: $39.

‭Design Essentials for Injection Molding

A good rule of thumb is to apply 1 degree of draft per 1 inch of cavity depth.

‭There are multiple paths to injection molding. Some parts are first prototyped through 3D
‭printing where moldability considerations are of limited concern. Others take a more
‭traditional machining route that allows for iterative testing in engineering-grade materials
‭similar to that of molding. And many simply jump right to injection molding.

‭Before production begins, there are important design considerations that will improve the
‭moldability of the parts, and ultimately, reduce the chance of production hiccups,
‭cosmetic defects and other issues.

In this month’s design tip, we walk through these key design elements:

  • ‭Draft and radii
  • ‭Wall thickness
  • ‭Coring out and ribbing
  • Ramps and gussets
  • ‭Undercuts
  • Gating and ejection

Read the full design tip here.