Proto Labs Garners Top Workplace Honor for 6th Straight Year

For the sixth consecutive year, Proto Labs has been recognized as a Top Workplace by Workplace Dynamics, a national survey firm that researches participating companies through confidential employee surveys.

The firm looks at individual factors such as employee wages and management, but also aspects that include career potential and a company’s future. The survey is conducted in 50 U.S. markets and local results are compiled by Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.

Welcome to the “Code Cave,” a new collaboration area inside renovated office space at Proto Labs’ Maple Plain, Minn. headquarters.

Our company is one of 110 Minnesota-based employers that scored high enough to qualify as a Top Workplace against Workplace Dynamics’ national benchmark.

On a related note, providing employees with a work environment that supports productivity and nurtures innovation is a key aspect of being a top workplace. Along these lines, the vacated production area on the lower floor of Proto Labs’ headquarters building in Maple Plain was recently renovated and converted into office space. That office area is now home to software engineers, web developers, and other technology-based roles. High-tech conference centers are sprinkled throughout and there’s even a “Code Cave” (see photo). Additionally, we’ve opened a new, larger 3D-printing facility in Cary, N.C.

Though the Workplace Dynamics survey covered only Minnesota employees, Proto Labs globally now includes 1,600 employees in 12 locations in eight countries.

Proto Labs Extends Additive Manufacturing Reach in Europe

Proto Labs’ corporate headquarters are in Maple Plain, Minn. (above). With the Alphaform acquisition, Proto Labs now has manufacturing plants in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland and Japan.

Proto Labs closed this week on the purchase of select assets and operations of German-based manufacturer Alphaform AG, which significantly extends its additive manufacturing (3D printing) capabilities across Europe.

Alphaform is a leading service bureau headquartered in Feldkirchen (Munich), Germany. The purchase includes Alphaform divisions operating in Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom. This acquisition will significantly expand Proto Labs’ recently launched additive manufacturing capabilities in Europe by adding selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering and additional stereolithography capabilities. The acquisition also includes the injection molding service currently offered by Alphaform Claho, in Eschenlohe, Germany. MediMet Precision Casting and Implants Technology GmbH, a 100 percent subsidiary of Alphaform AG, is not part of the transaction.

Proto Labs entered the additive manufacturing market last year with the purchase of Fineline in Raleigh, N.C. Proto Labs is spending $25 million to expand that plant, which is set to open in 2016.

You can read the full press release here.

‘Proposed Revision’ Enhancement in ProtoQuote Makes Ordering Parts Even Easier

We hear it often: “How do I make my part moldable?” With the introduction of Proto Labs Proposed Revisions in our automated ProtoQuote® system, your part may qualify to receive our enhanced moldability analysis that automatically makes adjustments to areas like draft or wall thickness. Here’s how it works: Continue reading

Wanted: New CEO to Run Growing Company

In August of 2001, while paging through the Sunday newspaper, I came across a small, black-and-white print ad placed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune classified section. The employment ad was seeking a CEO for a growing rapid injection-molding manufacturer called The Protomold Company. Intrigued, I answered the ad placed by the company’s founder, Larry Lukis. A few months later, I joined his team of 10 employees and my tenure as President and CEO began.

Fast forward 12 years to a company that now employs 730 people in the United States, Europe and Japan and serves a global market of more than 7,000 product developers and engineers. During that time, we’ve added a CNC-machining service, manufactured millions of plastic and metal parts, changed our name to Proto Labs and took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange.

As I look back to that classified ad, it described Protomold as a million dollar company with an immediate available opportunity of $150 million. Proto Labs’ projected revenue for 2013 is expected to very likely eclipse the $150 million mark. The company has never been in better shape, and its future has never looked brighter, so it might have seemed strange to our board of directors when I recently announced that it was time for me to leave Proto Labs.

Whereas Larry was the starter and I was the organizer, we now need a builder to take Proto Labs from a $150 million to $1 billion company. And like Larry did before me, I now place my own employment ad of sorts seeking a new CEO who can take Proto Labs to the next level.

We’re looking for someone with the expertise and background to guide a world-class management team and motivated staff into the future as Proto Labs continues to grow. They should have the experience of growing a company to the $1 billion level or beyond, and be knowledgeable and passionate about systems, processes and procedures. They should know how to motivate a team to tackle complex challenges. Recognizing the fact that sometimes the best idea isn’t their own is critical. Candidates should also be proactive, self-starters who have strong communication skills, demonstrate financial aptitude and are almost obsessive in their responsiveness, since this has become standard operating procedure at Proto Labs.

Finding a new CEO will be a lengthy process and a thorough search is well underway. My plan is to remain with the company throughout that entire process. If you think you are the person to lead Proto Labs, please contact Bo Herbst at

Brad Cleveland, President and CEO
Proto Labs, Inc.