Proto Labs Expands Its Additive Manufacturing Footprint

Proto Labs has acquired a new facility to expand its 3D printing service into a larger and more efficient additive manufacturing space. The 77,000 sq. ft. facility will allow us to house all of our stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology under one roof. The new plant is scheduled to become fully operational in the first half of 2016, and will remain in the North Carolina area where Proto Labs’ current additive facilities are located.

Large format SLS machines that will eventually move to Proto Labs’ new additive manufacturing facility.

“Since the launch of 3D printing at Proto Labs, we’ve increased our material selection and improved our turnaround time to days. We have also introduced additive services in Europe,” explains Rob Connelly, Proto Labs’ VP of Additive Manufacturing. “Our state-of-the-art facility will be a critical driver in advancing 3D printing for many years to come.”

Read the full press release on our new additive manufacturing space here.

Q & A with Proto Labs’ Rob Bodor in Electronic Design

Rob Bodor, Proto Labs’ VP and GM, Americas

*Excerpt courtesy of Bill Wong and Electronic Design

Turning an idea into a product is more than just hacking some hardware and software together. It’s easier to develop a prototype with 3D printers, but many other techniques and methodologies are more appropriate for some applications. Likewise, turning from a prototype to production can be a challenge.

Along those lines, Proto Labs offers a range of production and design services, and maintains extensive production facilities to deliver any number of parts for a given design. I spoke with Rob Bodor about some of Proto Labs’ services and what they bring to the table.

Wong: How did Proto Labs get started, and what kind of services does it offer today?

Bodor: Proto Labs was founded as the ProtoMold Company by Larry Lukis in 1999, a self-professed computer geek and entrepreneur. Previously, Larry was the founder of a successful company that sought to design a better printer. He was frustrated by the time, cost, and manual labor involved in getting injection-molded parts, so he decided to develop software that automated the injection molding processes he needed to create his prototypes.

Read the complete article at Electronic Design.

New 3D Printing Tech Brief Available

Additive manufacturing — aka 3D printing — has an important place in product development alongside CNC machining and injection molding. At Proto Labs, customers have the option to print their products with several different plastic and metal materials through various additive technologies. Continue reading

Proto Labs Teams with SOLIDWORKS on New Initiative

If you’re not currently joining us at SOLIDWORKS WORLD (Feb. 8-11) in Phoenix, Arizona, you may not have heard about our exciting new partnership with the MySolidWorks Manufacturing Network. Created to connect SOLIDWORKS users with reliable manufacturers in the 3D printing, sheet metal, CNC machining and injection molding industry, the network provides users with quick access to manufacturing resources like Proto Labs that, in turn, have a direct link to more than 2.5 million SOLIDWORKS users. Once connected to Proto Labs, designers can upload a 3D CAD model and receive an interactive quote with manufacturability analysis within hours.

Proto Labs is handing out nickel-plated 3D-printed rings at SOLIDWORKS Works 2015, which were built using an advanced stereolithography process.

To celebrate the partnership, Proto Labs has manufactured a limited-edition 3D-printed ring that SOLIDWORKS WORLD attendees who visit either the Proto Labs or SOLIDWORKS booth have the opportunity to receive. The ring was manufactured using Proto Labs’ SLArmor process, which takes stereolithography — an additive technology that uses an ultraviolet laser to cure thousands of thin layers together to build complex objects — to the next level by plating it with a nickel coating. This provides the look, feel and strength of metal, but without the weight.

As we move into 2015, watch our blog feed for more information on new ventures that Proto Labs will be launching.

2015 Manufacturing Trends

Last year was pretty big for the American manufacturing industry. Milestones both big and small made headlines: the White House hosted a Maker Faire; scientists achieved firsts in 3D printing technology by printing living human tissue and printing in zero gravity; President Obama announced his commitment to supporting American manufacturing through the creation of research hubs in key U.S. cities; a resurgent labor market has continued to fuel an “onshoring” trend with manufacturing jobs returning stateside; we figured out how to 3D print pizza, chocolate and sugary treats.

3D-printed chocolate confections are a real thing. Photo by Choc Edge.

As important as all of the strides made in the U.S. manufacturing space were in 2014, we’re most excited about what might be around the corner. We’re confident this is only the beginning of an exciting new era in our industry. Here are a few trends we’re keeping an eye out for this year: Continue reading