CASE STUDY: Robots Do Battle on ABC with Help from Proto Labs

Network television may seem an unlikely source for manufacturing innovation, but don’t say that to the designers of the robots competing in season two of ABC-TV’s BattleBots (a 10-episode run starts Thursday, June 23).

The Ringmaster (left) in action on ABC-TV’s BattleBots.
Photo Courtesy: ABC-TV

Two competitors in the show turned to Proto Labs recently for prototyping and end-use parts for their warrior robots.

California-based freelance product designer Hal Rucker created The Ringmaster robot, using Proto Labs’ 3D printing for plastic prototypes and production parts, and CNC machining for magnesium end-use parts.

Independent product developer Christian Carlberg, also of California, and his 13-year-old daughter Carissa, designed The Overdrive robot using Proto Labs’ CNC machining to fabricate two sets of parts for Overdrive’s weapon pulley system.

Overdrive’s designers looked to Proto Labs for help with parts for the weapon pulley system.
Photo Courtesy: Christian Carlberg

And who ultimately claimed victory in this clash of the robot titans? BattleBot designers were sworn to secrecy, so we’ll just have to tune in to see who won.

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TIPS WITH TONY: Machining Capabilities for High Performance Parts

Do you know how machining a part from titanium can improve its functionality and performance? How about using key inserts for improved durability to your part. Here are few capabilities and design options to keep in mind for your next machined part.

Titanium machined parts.

Titanium
Let’s start off with some big news. Previously, we only offered titanium for 3D-printed parts, but it’s now available to customers for machined parts. And, if that wasn’t enough to catch your attention, how does titanium machined parts in as fast as three days sound?

Titanium is extremely strong and boasts a high strength-to-weight ratio. It also has excellent corrosion resistance, high operating temperatures (up to 1,000°F) and is nontoxic.

Titanium has range of applications due to its advanced material properties. Frequently, you’ll find titanium parts in the aerospace, medical, military and marine industries. More specifically, it’s used for parts like rotors, compressor blades, hydraulic systems, surgical equipment, dental and orthopedic implants as well as in military aircrafts due to excellent ballistic characteristics.

The only drawback is the cost of the raw material. It’s more expensive than steel. For this reason, most manufacturers don’t hold a lot of inventory, but that isn’t the case at Proto Labs. We maintain a level of inventory that allows for on-demand milling and turning of titanium parts

Visit our machining materials page for more information.

Key insert for added durability.

Key Inserts
Key inserts are steel threaded inserts commonly used in aluminum parts for added durability. Note that these are different from standard coil inserts as they have an added keyway with a tab inserted to prevent twisting under extreme load.

Key inserts are primarily used by the aerospace and military industries following the military standard of MS51835B. We offer eight thread sizes ranging from #8-32 to ½-13. For a full list, visit our threading page and click the key inserts tab.

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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.