WHITE PAPER: Data, Digital Threads and Industry 4.0

By now, you’ve probably come across the term Industry 4.0. And yes, it can seem like just another term in the buzzword dictionary, but many of the world’s leading technology and manufacturing companies — including yours truly — rely on it, every day. It’s how we take your 3D CAD model and turn it into a finished part faster than anyone else.

Download our free white paper to learn how companies are accelerating product development with software and analytics.

It’s important to note that Industry 4.0 isn’t only about 3D printing and new manufacturing processes. Rather, it’s about connecting automated front-end software with back-end hardware for more informed decision-making and efficient execution.

We refer to the link between each of the processes as the digital thread, which is made possible by software and technology.

Download the free white paper to learn how your business can tap into the power of the digital thread and join the next industrial revolution.

DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER

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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WEBINAR: Designing for Stereolithography

3D printing deserves an in-depth look. Whether it’s determining the right 3D printing process, selecting the right material or understanding design considerations, there’s a lot to think about.

Eric Utley, 3D printing application engineer

We’re kicking off a series of 3D printing webinars with each session focusing on one process so we can really take a close look at what makes each process unique.

Eric Utley, 3D printing application engineer at Proto Labs, will share:

  • An overview of stereolithography
  • Material options and recommended applications
  • Design tips to improve surface finish, reduce cost and other benefits

After the presentation, you’ll be able to ask Eric any questions you have in an open Q&A session.

TITLE: Designing for 3D Printing: Stereolithography
DATE: June 23 at 1 p.m. CDT
REGISTER: Click here to register and attend

Even if you can’t make it, you can still register and we’ll send you a recording and you can watch it on-demand.Also, feel free to forward this invite to your colleagues.

EYE ON INNOVATION: 3D Printer Boldly Goes Where No Printer Has Gone Before

3D printing continues to break the bonds of traditional manufacturing methods. Now, a private company collaborating with NASA is breaking Earth’s bonds by taking 3D printing into space.

In April, at the International Space Station, NASA successfully tested a zero-gravity 3D printer that’s been in development for several years from California-based Made in Space.

Photo Courtesy: NASA

NASA found that the specially designed, zero-gravity 3D printer could in fact manufacture parts and tools on-site and on-demand. As NASA points out on its website, this on-site, in-orbit manufacturing ability would be a huge benefit for long-term, deep-space missions with restrictions on weight and room for cargo. The tests on board the space station included successfully printing items such as wrenches. So far, more than 25 objects have been produced.

As Gizmag.com reports, the zero-gravity printer is an extrusion printer that, like other 3D printers, builds up layers of hot liquefied ABS thermoplastic to create an object. However, a number of factors had to be taken into consideration for designing it to work in a zero-gravity environment. Components that might previously have been partly held in place by gravity had to be redesigned, thermal processes had to be recalculated and the layering process had to be reconsidered. The printing functions were then all integrated into what is called the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), part of an overall platform dubbed the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF).

Photo Courtesy: Made in Space

As a spokesman for Made in Space says in a promotional video: “The goal…is pretty simple, but audacious…to develop the necessary technologies to allow humanity to move beyond Earth and live on other planets.”

Meanwhile, more down-to-earth considerations include, as Wonderfulengineering.com reports, Made in Space’s announcement this week that it is “going commercial and inviting the public [to purchase parts] made in the unique presence of zero gravity.”

Eye on Innovation is a monthly look at new technology and products.

On-Demand Webinar: Improving Manufacturability with ProtoQuote

Last week we hosted a quick webinar that explored how designers can use ProtoQuote to improve the manufacturability of their design. It’s available on-demand here.

Key Takeaways

  • How to get free design for manufacturability feedback for your part
  • Improving manufacturability by adding draft, adjusting wall thickness and incorporating radii
  • How to navigate ProtoQuote for each of our processes: 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding

Top Questions Asked

Will Proto Labs help simplify my CAD file?
Yes, along with our automated DFM feedback, we have a full staff of engineers that will work with you on simplifying your design. Once you upload a 3D CAD file, they will look at it and explore ways of improving overall manufacturability and provide guidance based on your part’s requirements and intended application.

Are there any general design tips to avoid parts having side-pulls or side-actions?
Our free design cube shows the different side-actions that we use to produce parts. And, if you have snap features on your part that might require side-actions, you can cut away that geometry and use a pass-through core to alleviate the need for a side-pull or cam.

We also have resources that discuss implementing side-actions, as well as eliminating the need for them:

What are the material options for opaque materials for lighting applications?
We offer polycarbonate materials that provide transparent options for lighting and other applications requiring transparent materials. We provide multiple PC colors: amber, green, blue, transparent and even infrared.

Stay Tuned
Look for additional technical webinars throughout the year on various 3D printing, CNC machining or injection molding topics. The next webinar will be part one in a series of 3D printing webinars and we’ll discuss designing for stereolithography.