About Will Martin

Will is the communications manager at Proto Labs. He writes about rapid manufacturing. A lot. Will enjoys baseball on the radio, pretentious French cinema and Tom Waits.

The Reviews Are In!

We recently published a comprehensive, 72-page “Digital Manufacturing for Dummies” book that covers the benefits of using additive manufacturing (3D printing), CNC machining and injection molding for custom prototyping and low-volume production.

Well, a few editors of industry publications have had a chance to read and review the book. Here’s what they’re saying:

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5 Design Considerations for Multi-Cavity Molds

Moving from a single cavity mold to one that produces two, four or eight parts at once seems like an easy way to increase production volume and reduce part costs. This can be true in many cases, but only if the right steps are taken and the requisite homework done first.

The 3D CAD model for a multi-cavity mold.

Designing a part for multi-cavity molding is not as simple as copying the CAD file for a single-cavity mold multiple times. It’s important to recognize that parts that behave perfectly in single-cavity mold might not play well with others, at least not without first making some tweaks to the part, the process or even the material.

In July’s tip, we look at important design considerations for multi-cavity molds that include gating, side-actions and pick-outs, material flow and how family molds are used differently than multi-cavity tooling.

Read the full design tip here.

Bounce Imaging Develops Tactical Ball for First Responders with Rapid Manufacturing

Simply tossing a ball can make dangerous places safer for police, firefighters and other first responders — if that ball is the Explorer, a smartphone-enabled camera tucked inside a baseball-sized shell, developed by a Boston startup, Bounce Imaging.

Once the patented ball is rolled around a corner or down a darkened corridor, its six-eyed camera snaps images every half second in every direction until the ball comes to a stop. An image-processing algorithm in Bounce Imaging’s app assembles the images into a panoramic view for display on a mobile Android or iOS device.

Law enforcement can roll the tactical ball into unknown places to stream to live feedback.

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Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick Joins Judges Panel for Cool Idea! Award

Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick.

We’re excited to announce that Indiegogo‘s Director of Hardware, Design & Technology, Andrew Erlick, has been added to the judges panel of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award program. Erlick’s experience at Indiegogo (the largest global crowdfunding platform) and Quirky (a social product development company) should prove valuable as he helps identify and select innovative product ideas to receive the award.

The Cool Idea! Award program, now in its fifth year, was established to help product designers and engineers bring useful concepts to market. Since 2011, nearly $1 million in custom prototyping and low-volume production services have been provided to entrepreneurs developing new products in the United States and Europe.

The program runs year-round and today marks the start of the July/August submission period. Apply now at protolabs.com/cool-idea.

Read our full press release announcement here.

Seamless Manufacturing Quotes Coming to Autodesk Fusion 360

We’ve teamed up with Autodesk to provide easy access to online quoting directly within Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD program.

By clicking the Proto Labs logo within Fusion 360, users will be able to get an interactive quote within a few hours that contains free design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis for injection molding or CNC machining. The analysis highlights potential manufacturability issues allowing design modifications to be made early before any actual production begins.

In addition to molding and machining, plans are underway to implement similar quoting functionality for parts that will be manufactured through our additive manufacturing (3D printing) service.

This software integration will go live with a late-July release of the Fusion 360 application update. Read our full press release here.