The new issue of Proto Labs Journal is out and includes a cover story focusing on the digital transformation of injection molding. A related, second feature story explores the pros and cons of printed plastic molds.
The cover story reports on how automating the front-end of the manufacturing process has reinvented injection molding, and served as a game-changer for the entire industry.
The related feature, “3D-Printed Molds,” advises product designers, engineers and developers to take a careful look at part finish, size, design capabilities, mold longevity considerations and cost when comparing printed plastic molds to aluminum tooling.
Elsewhere in the Journal, look for our Eye on Innovation feature, which highlights cool new products and technology you should know about.
Read the entire Journal here.
We’re always on the hunt for though-provoking content, so send your cool project or article idea to our editor at email@example.com.
Thanks and enjoy the issue!
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.
UL 94 is a plastics flammability standard released by the Underwriters Laboratories (USA). The standard classifies plastics according to how they burn in various orientations and part thicknesses from the lowest flame-retardant to most flame-retardant in six different classifications.
UL 94 Rating
Definition of Rating
| Slow burning on a horizontal part.
| Burning stops within 30 seconds on a vertical part allowing for drops of flammable plastic.
| Burning stops within 30 seconds on a vertical part allowing for drops of plastic that are not inflames.
| Burning stops within 10 seconds on a vertical part allowing for drops of plastic that are not inflames.
| Burning stops within 60 seconds on a vertical part with no drops of plastic allowed but may burn through the part.
| Burning stops within 60 seconds on a vertical part with no drops of plastic allowed and cannot burn through the part.
Rapid injection molding is regularly used for prototyping and low-volume production during product development, and bridge tooling before large-scale production begins, but it’s also often used after a product is launched. Here are three ways to use rapid manufacturing once a product enters the market:
1. Supply Chain Emergencies
- Minimize down time and reduce the risk of stock-outs when your production tool is down or being repaired.
- Mitigate the risk of domestic and global shipping delays by having a reliable, on-demand supplier of low-volume parts.
- Be prepared to meet an unplanned spike in demand without going on back-order.
2. On-demand Production
- Order exact part quantities when you need them to avoid excess inventory.
- Parts are shipped within 15 days or less to eliminate downtime.
3. End-of-Life Planning
- Leverage low-volume aluminum tooling to place on-demand orders during product life cycle decline.
- Mitigate the risk of inventory write-offs by ordering parts in lower quantities.
Click to enlarge product life cycle infographic:
California-based eyewear maker VSP Global is using Proto Labs’ rapid injection molding services to accelerate the design, prototyping and testing phase of a new product, a pair of glasses that includes a health-tracking capability.
Photo: VSP Global
The glasses have a fitness tracker built in, a prototype design concept that VSP Global calls Project Genesis. A vision care company, VSP Global includes an eyewear manufacturing and design division, plus a vision insurance plan that encompasses more than 80 million members and a network of 34,000 eye doctors in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.
Wearable technology is a hot trend right now, and, as VSP Global explained in a recent press release, though “some [wearables] could be considered hype, some…could be considered the start of a personalized medicine revolution.” Continue reading