10 Random Things About Proto Labs

A CAPACITY FOR GROWTH
Proto Labs started in 1999 in a garage in Long Lake, Minnesota with a single injection molding press. At last count, we’re at more than 600 machines: roughly 400 CNC mills, 150 presses and 50 3D printers.

Injection molding presses line Proto Labs’ production floor.

SORRY ANTARCTICA!
We currently serve more than 160 countries (out of 195) on six continents.

PRO(TO) TIP
Psst. You can get up to 10,000 injection-molded parts with aluminum tooling at Proto Labs, but there’s a good chance we’ll be able to produce part runs well beyond that depending on material and geometry. Just sayin’.

A part built by stereolithography, a 3D printing process we added in 2014.

PERFECT 10
Up until 2014, we had two manufacturing processes: plastic injection molding and CNC milling. By the end of 2015, we’ll have added another EIGHT: three 3D printing processes (stereolithography, selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering), CNC turning and injection molding processes for steel, magnesium, liquid silicone rubber and one in the pipeline. It has been a busy two years.

20.5 TFLOPS
The total amount of computing muscle at Proto Labs. What’s a TFLOP? One TFLOP equals a trillion floating point operations per second.

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Proto Labs Named to Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies List

Proto Labs has been named to Fortune Magazine’s 2015 100 Fastest-Growing Companies List, the magazine’s annual compilation of public companies with the best three-year profit, revenue and stock growth.

Our company ranks 75th on Fortune’s list, and is the only Minnesota firm to make the cut.

We join Facebook as first-timers to the rankings. This was the first year Proto Labs was eligible to make the list, given that Fortune only reviews public companies that have been trading continuously since June 20, 2012. Proto Labs went public in February of 2012. Other familiar brands on Fortune’s list this year include Skechers (No. 21), Netflix (No. 46) and Under Armour (No. 62). Lannett, a Philadelphia-based pharmaceuticals company, was named No. 1.

Read our full press release here.

Proto Labs Named Manufacturer of the Year!

Proto Labs’ President and CEO, Vicki Holt, with VP of Global Marketing, Bill Dietrick.

It is a tremendous honor to have been named Manufacturer of the Year, Small Enterprise by the Manufacturing Leadership Council at growth consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The 2015 Manufacturing Leadership Awards ceremony, which was held in Carlsbad, Calif. on June 4, celebrates industry leaders and companies that are shaping global manufacturing.

Alongside Proto Labs, Dow Chemical received top honors as Manufacturer of the Year, Large Enterprise; Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, General Electric and The Campbell Soup Company were among other notable award winners. Large and Small Enterprise categories for Manufacturer of the Year were determined by companies with annual revenues of over and under $1 billion, respectively.

Read the full press release here.

Trailblazing the World of Digital Manufacturing — As Seen on FOX Business’ ‘After the Bell’

Earlier this week, our CEO, Vicki Holt, appeared on Fox Business’ “After the Bell.” She explained how Proto Labs’ digital manufacturing capabilities — from advanced 3D printing to quick-turn CNC machining to rapid injection molding — have enabled product developers and design engineers to iterate faster than ever, bringing products to market at an unprecedented speed. If you missed the live broadcast, check out the clip:


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11 Reasons Why Launching a Crowdfunding Campaign is Valuable

By Joel Townsan, creator of the Flipout Screwdriver

When my crowdfunding campaign failed, I was pretty devastated. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong — my Flipout Screwdriver had just won the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, had gotten tons of press coverage and people really liked the video (not to mention the product). Yet, I fell short, raising only $17,000 of the $50,000 goal I needed to move forward. I’ll admit, the product was priced a little high ($130 compared to most electric screwdrivers that go for $30 to $50 in stores), but I still couldn’t understand what went wrong. I had spent six weeks emailing every gadget magazine, tech blog and DIY forum I could find, but was somehow unable get my project into the coveted “Popular Products” category on Kickstarter — a section on the site that can seemingly make or break a product overnight. I thought it signaled the end of Flipout. Fortunately, it was just the beginning.

The Flipout cordless driver has a 360-degree range of motion with 380 possible configurations.

In addition to simply raising capital, there are a lot of bonuses to running a crowdfunding project that can actually benefit an inventor more in the long run. When the Kickstarter clock expired, I thought my project had failed, but really, it was the beginning of a crazy roller coaster ride that would result in a DRTV deal with Lowe’s — one of the largest big box retailers in the world. Regardless of the success or failure of a Kickstarter project, there’s a lot of good that can come from the campaign. It’s kind of like running a marathon; it takes months of training and then you run like you’ve never run before, but once you cross that finish line, it can be life-changing. Thus, my excitement crowdfunding.

Here are 11 reasons why every inventor and entrepreneur should consider a crowdfunding campaign:

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