5 Common Rapid CNC Machining Questions

TIPS WITH TONY

Most are familiar with machining, but what makes it unique at Proto Labs? These are a few of the most common questions we receive about our rapid CNC machining service. These answers will help you optimize your design for CNC machining and determine how it can improve your product development efforts.

CNC-Machining-Block-Plastic

CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that mills away at a block of solid plastic or metal.

1. What is unique about Proto Labs’ CNC machining process?
In order to efficiently machine low quantities as fast as possible, we do things a bit differently compared to a traditional machine shop. When you upload a 3D CAD file to protolabs.com, our proprietary software analyses the design, creates a quote, and generates the CNC toolpaths. By automating the front-end of the manufacturing process, we can machine a part in as fast as one day.

2. How does the quoting process work?
Once you upload your 3D CAD model to our website, the software calculates the price—not a budgetary estimate—to machine your design. Within a few hours, you’ll receive an email with an interactive quote. Here, you can select different materials and quantities and receive real-time price updates. The quote even contains a 3D-view of your machined part, which will highlight any differences between the machined part and the original 3D CAD model. See a ProtoQuote preview here. Continue reading

Cool Ideas for the Gift Giving Season

THE SHORT LIST

Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season? These past Cool Idea! Award recipients might fit the bill.

1. Need a gift for the techie? Garageio is garage door opener built for the 21st century. It connects to your smartphone and allows you to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world. And, you don’t need to replace your existing opener, so installation is simple. Not only is it a convenient gadget but it also provides a sense of relief by sending real-time alerts if your garage door is left open. Garageio is even compatible with Amazon’s home automation platform, Echo. Learn more about Garageio.

2. To the untrained eye, Everpurse might look like your typical handbag, but take a closer look and you’ll find an integrated smartphone charging system. You simply place your phone into the purse’s charging dock and it will automatically start recharging—no wires required. When you’re at home, you can charge the bag’s battery by placing it on top of the inductive charging mat. Learn more about Everpurse.

3. SOLOSHOT is like having your own personal cameraman. It’s a virtual tracking system that works with most cameras and is able to track an object as far as 2,000 feet away. The video subject simply wears or mounts a tag on themselves and the camera’s base station automatically follows the user. It’s perfect for the outdoor enthusiast looking for quality video footage of themselves while they rock climb, surf, or snowboard. Learn more about SOLOSHOT.

Visit the Cool Idea! Award website to find more award recipients–and potential gift ideas.

Webinar Round-Up: 3D Printing Materials, CNC Machining, and More

We wrapped up 2017 with two webinars on rapid manufacturing. First, we discussed how to design efficient parts for CNC machining. Then we shared tips on how to select the right material for your 3D-printed parts. Both are available on demand.

Stay tuned for what’s to come in 2017. We’ll be kicking off the new year by looking at how to leverage on-demand production to reduce manufacturing costs and manage demand volatility.

Proto Labs’ On-Demand Webinars 
Below you’ll find our complete library of webinars—just click the title to watch.

Designing for Rapid Overmolding

  • Design factors that determine the quality of flexible-to-rigid bonds
  • Methodology used to measure bonding strength

Designing for 3D Printing: Selective Laser Sintering

  • SLS material considerations
  • Design guidelines for functional prototypes and production parts

How to Choose the Right Thermoplastic Material

  • Factors in thermoplastic material selection
  • Overview of common thermoplastics including the effects of additives

Designing for 3D Printing: Direct Metal Laser Sintering

  •  DMLS design considerations including surface finishes, internal features, stresses, and support requirements.
  • Reducing multi-part assemblies into a single component

Past Cool Idea! Award Winner Launches New PocketLab Devices

For startup companies, a key measure of success is securing funding. Garnering a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, for instance, and $114,000 in Kickstarter funds, are awfully nice merit badges. Plus, the funding itself is crucial, of course, in bringing a company’s product to market.

The original PocketLab platform and device, pictured, has found early success, and two new devices are coming soon: PocketLab Voyager and PocketLab Weather.

Indeed, those funds last year helped California-based startup Myriad Sensors, Inc., launch the PocketLab platform and device, which has found early success, enough so to move forward with the launch of two new PocketLab devices and a second Kickstarter campaign. More on those in a second.

Myriad Sensors was also a 2015 recipient of the Cool Idea! Award from Proto Labs, which provided prototyping and low-volume production services to the company for the initial PocketLab device.

Clifton Roozeboom, PocketLab inventor, and founder and CEO of Myriad Sensors, points to the Cool Idea! Award as a catalyst to the initial launch and success of PocketLab, which is now used by tens of thousands in 45 countries, who are tapping PocketLab for maker projects and science experiments.

The handheld device uses a wireless sensor and software platform to measure a number of different data fields that are then transmitted back to a computer or smartphone for analysis. It is relatively inexpensive (around $100) and is especially well-suited for students, teachers, and professors working on science projects in need of solid analytical data. Continue reading

DESIGN TIP: 6 Undercut Techniques to Improve Moldability

Undercuts are those complex features in an injection-molded part that prevent its ejection from the mold. They can be found on thousands of everyday parts, from the threads on a fastener to the slot for the power switch on a smart phone case.

The left image (1), illustrates a clip with undercut feature. The right image (2), shows an access hole beneath the undercut that allows the mold to protrude through the part and provide the needed latch shutoff geometry.

In our latest tip, we cover different injection molding design techniques to successfully integrate undercuts, and ultimately, improve overall part moldability.

This month’s tip discusses:

  • Parting lines
  • Side-actions
  • Bumpoffs
  • Hand-loaded inserts
  • Telescoping shutoffs
  • Additional considerations

READ FULL DESIGN TIP