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.
- 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.
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.
Why can’t you read my CAD file? Wrong file format? What formats do you accept? In our latest tip, I’ll cover what file formats work best with each manufacturing service at Proto Labs and discuss common questions that occur.
Simply put, we accept several different file formats, but some work better than others. To begin, here’s our list of formats that can be uploaded to our website:
- Solidworks (.sldprt)
- Autodesk Inventor (.ipt)
- AutoCad (3D .dwg)
- PTC ProE/Creo (.prt)
- CATIA (.catpart)
- SpaceClaim (.scdoc)
- SketchUp (.skp)
Neutral File Formats:
- ASIS (.sat)
- Stereolithography (.stl) — only available for additive and machining
We use proprietary software that is able to read or translate the file formats above. If you submit a format not listed, you’ll receive a no-quote and will need to upload a new file from the list of approved file formats in order to receive a quote. But if you submit a file from the list and you still receive a no-quote, there is a good possibility that the file was either corrupt or unable to be translated properly. In this case, we would suggest trying another file format, or multiple file formats, so we have options for translation. Or, reach out to one of our customer service engineers at email@example.com or 877.479.3680 to discuss a solution.
We’ve teamed up with Autodesk to provide easy access to online quoting directly within Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD program.
By clicking the Proto Labs logo within Fusion 360, users will be able to get an interactive quote within a few hours that contains free design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis for injection molding or CNC machining. The analysis highlights potential manufacturability issues allowing design modifications to be made early before any actual production begins.
In addition to molding and machining, plans are underway to implement similar quoting functionality for parts that will be manufactured through our additive manufacturing (3D printing) service.
This software integration will go live with a late-July release of the Fusion 360 application update. Read our full press release here.
If you’re not currently joining us at SOLIDWORKS WORLD (Feb. 8-11) in Phoenix, Arizona, you may not have heard about our exciting new partnership with the MySolidWorks Manufacturing Network. Created to connect SOLIDWORKS users with reliable manufacturers in the 3D printing, sheet metal, CNC machining and injection molding industry, the network provides users with quick access to manufacturing resources like Proto Labs that, in turn, have a direct link to more than 2.5 million SOLIDWORKS users. Once connected to Proto Labs, designers can upload a 3D CAD model and receive an interactive quote with manufacturability analysis within hours.
Proto Labs is handing out nickel-plated 3D-printed rings at SOLIDWORKS Works 2015, which were built using an advanced stereolithography process.
To celebrate the partnership, Proto Labs has manufactured a limited-edition 3D-printed ring that SOLIDWORKS WORLD attendees who visit either the Proto Labs or SOLIDWORKS booth have the opportunity to receive. The ring was manufactured using Proto Labs’ SLArmor process, which takes stereolithography — an additive technology that uses an ultraviolet laser to cure thousands of thin layers together to build complex objects — to the next level by plating it with a nickel coating. This provides the look, feel and strength of metal, but without the weight.
As we move into 2015, watch our blog feed for more information on new ventures that Proto Labs will be launching.
We’re officially kicking off our series of short Proto Labs videos today. Throughout the year, the series will take brief glimpses into our different manufacturing processes, technology, quoting and other areas that make Proto Labs unique. Our first short follows an initial concept as it moves from sketch to 3D CAD model to final part. Have a look: