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.
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
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.
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
It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about the current state of manufacturing without mention of 3D printing, an additive process that uses digital CAD models to build physical, real-life objects, layer by layer. While additive manufacturing has existed for more than 30 years, it wasn’t until the last few that 3D printing, led by increased accessibility, has become the poster child for progressive technology within the industry — NASA prints telescope! Designers print runway pumps! Scientists bio-print human organs!
It’s undoubtedly an exciting time in manufacturing that has many eager to see what the future brings, but can the promise of a printed world withstand the heat? We deconstruct the layers of 3D printing to find the substance beneath the style. Continue reading