An Illinois-based steel-spring manufacturer recently called on Proto Labs to help reduce component count and save time and money on a device the company uses to market its services to the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, and medical industries.
Smalley has long equipped its sales force with a small demo device, a handheld “comparator” that shows the relative size and performance of a wave spring—which Smalley manufactures—compared with a coil spring.
The company turned to Proto Labs for help with solving a cost issue when Smalley considered redesigning the comparator to “use them as ‘giveaways’ to prospective customers,” explained Lane Persky, Smalley marketing manager. “We were looking to go from about 20 of the original comparators, which each cost about $100 to produce, to an initial run of 1,000 redesigned comparators at a target cost of about $15 each.”
Proto Labs’ design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis, and its injection molding service, helped Smalley designers create a new comparator, which would require just seven parts. The original comparators each consisted of 23 parts.
“We chose Proto Labs for the company’s reputation and ability to do both advanced 3D printing for prototyping and affordable, rapid injection molding” for low-volume production, said Persky.
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Brunswick Corp.’s Sea Ray luxury boat brand is known for its high-end, opulent yachts that often command seven-figure sales tags. As you might expect, no detail is considered too small, not even something as seemingly mundane as the air-conditioning drainage system on Sea Ray’s L650 Fly model (pictured).
So, when the boat builder redesigned its AC drain-line arrangement, and then extended that new design from the L650 Fly to two other Sea Ray models, the company created a significant supply challenge, which Proto Labs was called on to meet.
The grill was manufactured in a durable, corrosion-resistant ABS plastic at Proto Labs.
“Proto Labs was definitely able to help us more seamlessly go from prototype to production, which is important in our market, to be able to make that transition quickly,” said Randy Hasson, project leader with Brunswick’s recreational boat group in Merritt Island, Florida.
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There’s still time to register for the webinar, “Accelerating Design Validation with Instant DFM and Pricing Feedback,” set for 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. Jointly hosted by CAD software maker Autodesk, and Proto Labs, this free webinar shows you how to:
- Reduce design risks with design for manufacturability (DFM) feedback
- Slash weeks or months off your prototyping phase
- Validate your designs early and often with DFM analysis and pricing feedback
- Use a seamless system of CAD software and online quoting
Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD software has Proto Labs’ instant online quoting feature with DFM analysis integrated into its application. This session teaches you how these capabilities work together.
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Using 3D printing for fully functional end-use metal and plastic parts is becoming increasingly common in rapid manufacturing with industrial-grade processes like direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and selective laser sintering (SLS).
Industrial-grade 3D printing is well suited to produce organic shapes, like this nylon turbine (left) and end-use production parts such as this titanium drill component (right).
With an expanding material selection and improving material properties, designers and engineers have another good option for small quantities of production parts.
Accordingly, our monthly design tip covers this emerging trend.
This month’s tip discusses:
- Choosing the best 3D printing process for your application
- Selecting the right thermoplastic and metal materials
- Designing part geometry for 3D printing
- Using SL, SLS, and DMLS for end-use production parts
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For the sixth consecutive year, Proto Labs has been recognized as a Top Workplace by Workplace Dynamics, a national survey firm that researches participating companies through confidential employee surveys.
The firm looks at individual factors such as employee wages and management, but also aspects that include career potential and a company’s future. The survey is conducted in 50 U.S. markets and local results are compiled by Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.
Welcome to the “Code Cave,” a new collaboration area inside renovated office space at Proto Labs’ Maple Plain, Minn. headquarters.
Our company is one of 110 Minnesota-based employers that scored high enough to qualify as a Top Workplace against Workplace Dynamics’ national benchmark.
On a related note, providing employees with a work environment that supports productivity and nurtures innovation is a key aspect of being a top workplace. Along these lines, the vacated production area on the lower floor of Proto Labs’ headquarters building in Maple Plain was recently renovated and converted into office space. That office area is now home to software engineers, web developers, and other technology-based roles. High-tech conference centers are sprinkled throughout and there’s even a “Code Cave” (see photo). Additionally, we’ve opened a new, larger 3D-printing facility in Cary, N.C.
Though the Workplace Dynamics survey covered only Minnesota employees, Proto Labs globally now includes 1,600 employees in 12 locations in eight countries.