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Protolabs' New CNC Flexible Lead Time Option Allows Its Customers To Control Delivery for a Lower Cost

Protolabs’ new CNC Flexible Lead Time option allows its customers to change their delivery dates for their machined parts to reduce the cost when they use its e-commerce platform.

The company is now offering a discounted flexible manufacturing solution for the shipping of parts from 6 to 12 days after an order. This is in addition to its standard delivery of just 3 days and an expedited manufacturing solution for urgent projects where parts are dispatched in as little as 1 day.

David Ewing, Product Manager for Protolabs’ CNC machining service in Europe, said: “We are known in the market for rapid delivery of prototypes and finished parts.  While our competitors measure delivery of CNC machined parts in weeks, we take just days.  This is ideal for those needing rapid prototyping or have an urgent deadline to meet.  

“However, not every order requires such a rapid response, so our new CNC Flexible Lead Time option allows customers using our e-commerce platform to upload their CAD and see how changing their delivery date alters the price.  It means we have given them even more control over production so that they can balance it to meet their own budgets and deadlines. Customers can now work to turnaround times that are best for their project.”

The software platform, that forms the basis of the customer quoting and ordering experience, also provides a free design for manufacturability analysis to check the CAD before production. It highlights features that are impossible to machine, but also areas where a redesign or change could save the customer money.

Ewing continued: “Our new lower-cost machining option still has a faster shipping time than most competitors can achieve, but our high quality remains completely unaffected by this speed – the only variable is the delivery time, and that delivery time is guaranteed.”

Protolabs uses both 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling for rapid prototyping and low-volume production of end use plastic and metal components. They also use live tooling that combines lathe and mill capabilities to machine parts with cylindrical features from metal rod stock. Customers upload their CAD onto the Protolabs e-commerce platform where they can easily add threaded features including key and coil inserts within their interactive quote.  When the quote is returned a 3D display will show which thread types are possible for each feature.

The company stocks more than 30 engineering grade plastic and metal materials that are suitable for various applications and industries.  These include plastics like ABS, polycarbonate nylon and PEEK and metals such as aluminium, stainless steel, magnesium and copper. They also provide extensive services in 3D printing (for both plastic and metal parts) and injection moulding (plastic injection moulding, liquid silicone rubber moulding, overmoulding and insert moulding).

To find out more about Protolabs’ CNC Flexible Lead Time option click here to find out more