Design Complex Components with Insert Molding

Low-volume injection molding isn’t limited to just simple parts. At Proto Labs, we have the ability to manufacture complicated parts using side-actions, hand-loaded inserts, overmolding, and have now started beta testing our insert molding process.

Instead of a mold that produces a final part using two separate shots like overmolding, insert molding generally consists of a preformed part—often metal—that is loaded into a mold, where it is then overmolded with plastic to create a part with improved functional or mechanical properties.

A threaded insert is placed atop a mold core where plastic is molded over it to form the final component.

Threaded Inserts
One way insert molding is leveraged is with threaded inserts, which reinforce the mechanical properties of plastic parts’ ability to be fastened together, especially over repeated assembly. Self-tapping screws work well with softer plastics, but they can become easily worn and/or cross threaded, and fail to perform well, which results in damaged parts that need to be replaced.

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3D Printing Design Fundamentals

Download “Design Essentials for 3D Printing”

3D printing opens up new design possibilities like hollow parts and complex organic geometries, but it’s still important to keep a few fundamentals in mind to take full advantage of 3D printing’s capabilities.

Understanding materials and processes as well as considerations like support structures and feature resolution are crucial for success. These design essentials will help you make the most out of your 3D-printed parts and accelerate your product development efforts.

In the following guide to 3D printing we focus on these topics:

  • 3D printing prototypes and fully functional, end-use parts
  • Designing for metal 3D printing
  • Comparing additive manufacturing processes
  • Material properties and selection

Click here to download Design Essentials for 3D Printing.

3D Printing’s Next Dimension? 7 Questions for Industry Experts

Rob Connelly

Patrick Dunne

A higher profile for industrial-grade 3D printing over the past decade has led to notable technology developments and potential new applications. The buzz over 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has also created a lot of speculation in the trade press about whether this technology, which has been around for more than 30 years, is poised to make a giant leap forward in capabilities.

“We are just now starting to see the fruits of these developments,” said Rob Connelly, vice president of additive manufacturing for Proto Labs, referring to a spate of recent announcements about advancements in new machines, materials, and software.

We recently interviewed three leaders from the 3D printing industry for insight into the current and future state of 3D printing:

John Murray

  • Rob Connelly, Vice President, Additive Manufacturing, Proto Labs
  • Patrick Dunne, Vice President, Advanced Application Development, 3D Systems, which manufactures and sells 3D printers
  • John Murray, President and CEO, U.S., Concept Laser, a global provider of 3D metal printing systems

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Take Full Advantage of CNC Machining’s Capabilities

Product designers in need of prototypes or end-use parts frequently turn to CNC machining for its quick-turn capabilities. Machining isn’t new, but just like any other digital technology, its functionality has expanded in recent years.

That’s why we assembled some tips for how to get the most out of today’s CNC machining. This will help you design higher quality machined parts and better use CNC machining to bolster your product development efforts.

Our Design Essentials for CNC Machining covers the following topics:

  • Designing cylindrical parts to be turned
  • Threading
  • Transition from 3D printing to machining
  • Outsourcing to a machine shop
  • Cost reduction tips for CNC machine

Click here to download Design Essentials for CNC Machining.

Augmented Reality Emerges as a Tool for Engineering Design

EYE ON INNOVATION

Virtual reality (VR) may be garnering a lot of media buzz these days, but augmented reality (AR) is gaining traction as a technology that offers practical applications for engineers, designers, and technicians.

Big names are getting involved, too, including Microsoft and Autodesk, which have recently teamed up to pair Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset with Autodesk’s Fusion 360 engineering design software.

Though still in the formative stages of development, AR-enhanced design software will help developers to visualize designs, view CAD model holograms, and see how new or replacement components and parts might fit on existing products. A recent article in Mechanical Engineering Magazine, for example, showed how AR allowed designers to visualize new motorcycle cladding and a fuel tank cover on an existing bike (see photo).

Photo: Mechanical Engineering Magazine

How does AR work?

Unlike VR, in which you put on glasses or a headset to fully immerse yourself in a virtual world, AR taps into technology to enhance the world around you. Also using glasses or a headset, AR dangles text, graphics, or video into users’ visual fields that describes, or augments, what they are looking at. Continue reading