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.

Engineers! It’s Your Week to Celebrate

Know an engineer? Show them some love this week. These inventors, builders, out-of-the-box thinkers, non-eye-contact makers deserve at least a week-long celebration of their services.

National Society of Professional Engineers.

National Engineers Week is an annual recognition that takes place from Feb. 22-28 this year. Established in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, it aims to:

  • celebrate engineers’ contributions to society.
  • raise awareness about the need for engineering in the world.
  • reach out to kids, schools, teachers and parents to get them excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

Continue reading

West Coast Roundup

We’re trading in the Midwest sleet and snow this week for some much-appreciated sunshine at a mix of industry conferences. If you happen to be in California or Arizona right now, look for us.

Pacific Design & Manufacturing
PD&M is co-located with Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M), both underway in Anaheim, California (Feb. 10-12). If you’re here, come find us in booth #4049 to see some of the exciting things we’re debuting at the show (besides our completely revamped booth)! We are officially launching turning capabilities within our CNC machining service as well as one- and two-day quick-turn shipment on 3D-printed parts built in stereolithography (SL) and selective laser sintering (SLS). We’re also participating in two panel discussions on accelerating speed to market by using 3D printing for rapid prototyping.

Continue reading

WATCH: From 3D CAD to Final Parts

We’re officially kicking off our series of short Proto Labs videos today. Throughout the year, the series will take brief glimpses into our different manufacturing processes, technology, quoting and other areas that make Proto Labs unique. Our first short follows an initial concept as it moves from sketch to 3D CAD model to final part. Have a look:

Kinetic Charger for Smartphones Brings New Meaning to Mobile

AMPY is an innovative kinetic charger that captures a person’s movement and converts it to charge for their mobile device. Tejas Shastry, Mike Geier and Alex Smith began developing the device in 2013 as students in an entrepreneurial class at Northwestern. They worked through dozens of prototype iterations involving 3D printed parts while fine-tuning its patent-pending, proprietary linear inductor. The user’s motion drives a magnet and coil system that generates electricity, which goes into a lithium ion battery for storage. Plug an iPhone, Android phone or other wearable device into AMPY’s USB port to begin charging.

The team at AMPY entered and won Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award, a service grant that will be used towards internal thermoplastic bobbins in the device. AMPY is now pilot testing with consumers while accepting online preorders at getampy.com for market-ready devices that are slated to ship in July 2015. Read our full case study on the development of AMPY.

DMLS lugs help build the ultimate urban utility bike

San Francisco is an ideal backdrop for a bike culture to thrive. Its temperatures remain consistently mild year-round, and its landscape seamlessly blends hills, streets and shoreline. Bicyclists commute to work, run errands, transport groceries (and their kids), and climb rugged bike paths to Bay Area overlooks. And that’s just a Monday.This fusion of task- and recreationally minded biking activities amidst the natural and man-made architecture of San Francisco was the inspiration behind Huge Design’s recent entry into Oregon Manifest’s Bike Design Project. Along with the California-based design firm, organizers of the national competition asked teams from Chicago, Portland, Seattle and New York to create an urban bike that most represented their city. Teams included both a design firm and frame builder — the San Francisco team being composed of Huge Design, bicycle fabricator Forty One Thirty Cycle Works and engineering partner PCH Lime Lab.