3D Printing or Machining for Plastic Parts?

An SL machine displays a final ABS-like part with supports.

There are many questions to consider when determining if your plastic parts should be 3D printed or machined. Can you test form, fit and function by using plastic-like materials or do you require engineering-grade thermoplastics? Do you need a broader selection of plastic materials during protoyping? Is your part geometry simple or complex? What are the cost considerations for both methods?

Our latest April Design Tip takes a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of both 3D printing and CNC machining.  It aims to help you determine which method is better for your particular application. Continue reading

New Low-Alloy Steel Options Added to Metal Injection Molding Process

We’ve added three new low-alloy steel materials to our metal injection molding process. The materials include two nickel steel materials (Catamold FN02 and FN0205) and a chrome-moly material (Catamold 42CrMo4) that is the MIM equivalent of 4140 steel.
The new low-alloy steel materials creates strong wear-resistant metal parts when heat-treated and has the ability to be coated in post-processing for further protection.
Read the full press release here. Continue reading

Minnesota Mag Names Proto Labs a Best Company

We’re proud to announce that we’re a recipient of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For Award from Minnesota Business magazine.

The award honors top-notch companies from many different industries across Minnesota, the home state of Proto Labs HQ. Companies submitted nominations and an independent research firm conducted an anonymous questionnaire filled out by employees. Employees’ answers determined which companies excelled in work environment, employee benefits and overall employee happiness, just to name a few highlights. Continue reading

ProtoView Gets Updated

Spring is a time of renewal, so keeping in that spirit, we’ve made some key improvements to our ProtoView software — the technology behind the design feedback in your interactive quotes.

ProtoView lets you review your automated design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis as a fully manipulatable 3D model that can be rotated in 360 degrees to explore any required or advised changes that may be needed to your part. Continue reading

Making the Steering Wheel Work

TRW Automotive’s clock spring design.

Most days drivers don’t give much thought to what happens when you press a steering wheel button. But it has been at the forefront of Rick Bowes’ mind for quite a while. Bowes is a designer in the body control systems group at Michigan-based TRW Automotive. The global company focuses on active and passive safety systems and has worked with Proto Labs for the past five years.   Continue reading