How Digital Manufacturing is Changing the Industry Forever

Our current issue of the Proto Labs Journal looks at the convergence of complex software and automated hardware bringing rise to the digital age of manufacturing. Follow the thread of a 3D CAD model from upload to digital analysis to final part, and the massive compute cluster that’s powering it all.

Along with our cover story, read about leveraging low-volume injection molding, the latest in innovative technology we’ve mined from the Internet  and new service offerings at Proto Labs.

Read the full Journal now.

Bridging the STEM Gap

Our cover story for this month’s Journal focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields as they relate to both education and employment. We take an in-depth look at how STEM-related jobs have remained in high demand as high schools and colleges work to train future employees in this curriculum.

Notably there is a gap between the skill sets that employers are seeking in STEM fields and the amount of qualified people who are available to fill them. School districts, universities, and companies are beginning to recognize this disconnect and have been working in recent years to raise awareness about the importance of STEM-based education.

Find out how the STEM gap is affecting the business world, the work being put forth by schools and businesses to close this gap and Proto Labs’ own efforts toward building a strong STEM presence within our workforce.

Read the full story here

First Journal Issue of 2015

Journal issue 1, 2015

Moving a product through the duration of its life cycle involves many peaks, valleys and pivots. The trail can be difficult to navigate, but our various manufacturing technologies can guide you down the path. In our cover story, we show you how to leverage manufacturing at every stage of a product’s life.

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14 Reasons Why Optical LSR is Good for Lighting Applications

As LEDs increasingly supplant metal filaments in light bulbs, optical LSR — in addition to plastics like polycarbonate and acrylic resins — is replacing glass in many optical applications including lens covers and light pipes.

Optical LSR is a transparent, flexible thermoset material that is replacing glass in many optical applications.

The flexible, transparent material is second in clarity only to glass; it can withstand heat in proximity to high-output LEDs and operate in a range of ambient temperatures. Optical LSR is flexible enough for rough duty, outdoor and automotive use. It also allows for very flexible design including accurate replication of fine features. It can support minor undercuts and negative draft without the need for side-actions, and both thick and thin walls. Designs in this material can often integrate multiple parts into a single unit, combining for example a lens, a clear lens cover and a sealing gasket, reducing the bill of materials for a final assembly.

Proto Labs stocks Dow Corning MS-1002 LSR, a material that has been engineered for molding finely detailed parts for LED applications. Read our full Design Tip to see how optical LSR might help on your next lighting project.

Checking In on Hockey and Manufacturing

A Minnesota Wild hockey puck

Minnesota has formally dubbed itself “The State of Hockey,” a moniker that’s hard to argue with when the headquarters of Minnesota-based Proto Labs is brimming with hometown patriotism for its local team on the brink of advancing to the next round of the NHL playoffs. Hockey even shares some similar language with the manufacturing industry. Checking in hockey is a technique used to “stop or slow down the progress of something undesirable,” like Colorado Avalanche players. Checking in rubber components happens when “short, shallow surface cracks are caused by damaging action.” Both hockey and the molded rubber pucks that are used experience this disruptive nature of checking. Continue reading