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.
Proto Labs has had a long relationship with the athletic world. We’ve produced many parts for product developers who are changing the game with innovative sports products. We’ve made parts that help train tennis players, bring focus to batters awaiting fastballs, monitor oxygen levels in runners, train ballerinas and more. Our prototyping services help designers and engineers get parts quickly so they can test form, fit and function, make iterations if needed, and start field testing their products with actual athletes.
Our Journal cover story takes a look at why developing a product to compete in the sports market means first understanding the athlete it’s built for.