1 Million Machining Quotes

Sound the noisemakers and release the confetti! We’ve just quoted our 1 millionth machining order in North America. While legal won’t let us give out an oversized check or free parts for life to whoever put us over a million, it’s another great reminder that designers and engineers are using quick-turn CNC machining more than ever for prototypes and production parts. We launched our machining service in 2007 and have continued to enhance our capabilities with new plastic and metal materials and processes like lathe.

So, how do these numbers relate to our other services? We’ve quoted more than 700,000 injection molding orders and 525,000 3D printing orders, putting Proto Labs well over the 2 million mark in North America.

And for that, we sincerely thank our customers.

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The Reviews Are In!

We recently published a comprehensive, 72-page “Digital Manufacturing for Dummies” book that covers the benefits of using additive manufacturing (3D printing), CNC machining and injection molding for custom prototyping and low-volume production.

Well, a few editors of industry publications have had a chance to read and review the book. Here’s what they’re saying:

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5 Design Considerations for Multi-Cavity Molds

Moving from a single cavity mold to one that produces two, four or eight parts at once seems like an easy way to increase production volume and reduce part costs. This can be true in many cases, but only if the right steps are taken and the requisite homework done first.

The 3D CAD model for a multi-cavity mold.

Designing a part for multi-cavity molding is not as simple as copying the CAD file for a single-cavity mold multiple times. It’s important to recognize that parts that behave perfectly in single-cavity mold might not play well with others, at least not without first making some tweaks to the part, the process or even the material.

In July’s tip, we look at important design considerations for multi-cavity molds that include gating, side-actions and pick-outs, material flow and how family molds are used differently than multi-cavity tooling.

Read the full design tip here.

Bounce Imaging Develops Tactical Ball for First Responders with Rapid Manufacturing

Simply tossing a ball can make dangerous places safer for police, firefighters and other first responders — if that ball is the Explorer, a smartphone-enabled camera tucked inside a baseball-sized shell, developed by a Boston startup, Bounce Imaging.

Once the patented ball is rolled around a corner or down a darkened corridor, its six-eyed camera snaps images every half second in every direction until the ball comes to a stop. An image-processing algorithm in Bounce Imaging’s app assembles the images into a panoramic view for display on a mobile Android or iOS device.

Law enforcement can roll the tactical ball into unknown places to stream to live feedback.

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Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick Joins Judges Panel for Cool Idea! Award

Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick.

We’re excited to announce that Indiegogo‘s Director of Hardware, Design & Technology, Andrew Erlick, has been added to the judges panel of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award program. Erlick’s experience at Indiegogo (the largest global crowdfunding platform) and Quirky (a social product development company) should prove valuable as he helps identify and select innovative product ideas to receive the award.

The Cool Idea! Award program, now in its fifth year, was established to help product designers and engineers bring useful concepts to market. Since 2011, nearly $1 million in custom prototyping and low-volume production services have been provided to entrepreneurs developing new products in the United States and Europe.

The program runs year-round and today marks the start of the July/August submission period. Apply now at protolabs.com/cool-idea.

Read our full press release announcement here.