3 Ways to Improve Operations with On-Demand Production

On-demand production of parts not only accelerates time to market, but reduces total cost of ownership since it eliminates the large capital expenses of traditional injection molding. Here are three ways on-demand production reduces your design risk, accelerates your product’s time to market, and saves you money along the way.

1. Bridge Tooling
Once you’ve finalized your product design, there’s often a gap between the end of product development and production. Leveraging rapid injection molding with cost effective, aluminum tooling can help you get to revenue more quickly while you wait for your production manufacturer to finalize steel tooling.

2. Supply Chain Emergencies
On-demand manufacturing provides a reliable alternative if global shipping delays or other disruptions in your supply chain arise—minimizing any potential loss of revenue. Further, products with high demand volatility can be more easily managed with on-demand manufacturing.

3. Low-Volume Production Runs
Before committing to large-volume production runs, validate your product design with low-volumes. Pilot runs can aid in testing assembly processes or gauging market demand. And, on-demand production is an economically viable solution for products with relatively low sales volumes—typically in the few thousands or hundreds of units.

Click to enlarge the on-demand manufacturing infographic:

The Short List is a regular compilation of quick tips, trends, and timely topics of interest.

How to Design 4 Common Metal 3D Printing Features

Click to watch an on-demand webinar on how to design for direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is not intended to replace traditional metal manufacturing like casting, metal injection molding, or machining. Rather, it’s a product development tool that opens up new design possibilities. Product designers and engineers commonly rely on metal 3D printing to manufacture complex geometries, reduce the number of components in an assembly, or even lightweight objects.

Here’s a look at how to design 4 common features found in metal 3D-printed parts.

1. Self-Supporting Angles
A self-supporting angle describes the feature’s angle relative to the build plate. The lower the angle, the less the likely it is to support itself.

Support angles built with direct metal laser sintering

Designing support angles no less than 45 degrees will ensure a quality surface finish and detail.

Each material will perform slightly different, but the general rule of thumb is to avoid designing a self-supporting feature that is less than 45 degrees. This tip will serve you well across all available materials. As you can see in the picture above, as the angle decreases, the part’s surface finish becomes rougher and eventually the part will fail if the angle is reduced too far. Continue reading

THE SHORT LIST: See You at Trade Shows This Fall

Look for the Proto Labs booth at various trade shows this fall. Here’s a brief roundup of where you’ll find us:

SEPTEMBER SHOWS

IMTS-Chicago-Sept. 12-17

The International Manufacturing Technology Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place is the largest manufacturing show in the Americas and will feature more than 2,000 exhibiting companies and over 114,000 registrants. Visit us at booth N-72 throughout the week. Proto Labs staffers are also presenting at the conference:

  • Jonathan Bissmeyer, Senior Quality Engineer: “Designing for the DMLS Process,” 1:15 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12, Room W192-B.
  • Greg Thompson, Global Product Manager: “Designing for Direct Metal Laser Sintering and Selective Laser Sintering,” 3:30 p.m., at the Additive Manufacturing Conference (co-located with IMTS).

    At a recent trade show in New York, Proto Labs staffers found time for a photo. From left, Eric Utley, Jenna Nyman, Abby Christensen, Kory Dirnberger, and Charlie Johnson.

MD&M-Minneapolis-Sept. 21-22

Medical Design & Manufacturing at Minneapolis’ Convention Center is the region’s largest medical technology event, with 5,000 industry professionals expected to attend. See us at booth 525.

As part of the show’s programming, Rich Baker, Proto Labs’ Chief Technology Officer, will present, “More Than Prototyping: Digital Manufacturing’s Role in Industry 4.0,” at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21. Baker also will participate in a panel discussion on “3D Printing: The Brave New World of Manufacturing” at 11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 22.

Device Talks-Boston-Sept. 28

Now in its fifth year, this gathering of medical technology professionals will include a day of workshops, panel discussions, and networking at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf.

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THE SHORT LIST: 4 Ways to Leverage Rapid Overmolding

Rapid Overmolding is the latest addition to our injection molding service. Now, you have a fast way to create injection-molded parts with two different materials. We use a pick ‘n place method.

rapid overmolding services sample

That means we follow a two-step process. First we mold the substrate part. Then we place the substrate part into the mold and a second material is injected to form the final, two-material part.

Here are a few benefits of rapid overmolding.

Vibration dampening: Dampen vibration by adding liquid silicone rubber to parts made of hard plastic, like ABS, or if it’s a handhold device (think toothbrush), it can even be used to improve grip.

rapid overmolding services sample orange partMulti-color aesthetics: Add a stylistic flair to your product with overmolding. Using two materials, means two colors for high-quality looking products and can enhance your product’s design.

Fast, flexible volumes: Often, manufacturers will not process low-volume overmolding orders, but now you have the ability to manufacture 25 to 10,000+ overmolded parts within just a few weeks.

Simplify multi-part assemblies: Reduce cost and save time spent assembling parts by combining two materials in one molded part.

For information on rapid overmolding like designing mechanical interlocks or understanding chemical bonding compatibility, visit our rapid overmolding service page to see overmolding design guidelines and get free DFM feedback.

THE SHORT LIST: 4 New Capabilities at Proto Labs

The crew at Protoworks (our R&D program) has been busy. Every day they’re pushing the boundaries to advance new rapid manufacturing processes and materials and expand your design possibilities.

We just rolled out a few new capabilities that we’re excited to share.

2 is better than 1: Overmolding

Overmolding expands on our injection molding offering. At Proto Labs, it’s a multi-step process where we mold a substrate part and place it into a second mold, which then molds another material onto the substrate. It’s called pick-n-place molding.

liquid silicone rubber manufacturing facility

A look inside our liquid silicone rubber manufacturing facility

Overmolding can aid in dampening vibration, improving grip as well as two-color aesthetics. We are still in the beta testing phase of our overmolding process, but it’s open to everyone.

Visit our overmolding page for design guidelines or to submit a request for parts.

Extra-strength machined parts: titanium

You asked. We listened. Our CNC machines can now mill and turn parts from titanium. With an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance, titanium is most suitable for applications in aerospace, medical and other industries where high performance is critical.

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