Green rendered part made with rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping for Prototype Manufacturing

Get your product to market faster with unmatched speed and production capabilities

  • Three manufacturing services
  • Hundreds of material options
  • 1-day lead times available for all services
  • Production analysis with every quote


ISO 9001: 2015 | JOSCAR | ISO 14001:2018 | ISO 13485 | DNV Qualification of Manufacture Certification for Inconel 718

Our Manufacturing Capabilities for Rapid Prototyping

Our Rapid Prototyping services are available in 3 core manufacturing processes; these include 3D Printing, CNC Machining and Injection Moulding. Each process has its own unique features and benefits. The process you choose will depend on your specific product and project stage. Continue reading to learn more about our prototype manufacturing capabilities. 

3D Print for Rapid Prototyping

3D Printing

Our online 3D printing service consists of six 3D printing technologies to build plastic, metal, and elastomeric parts. In addition to a broad material selection, we offer several post-processing options like clear coat, painting, heat treatment, polishing, and more.

CNC Machining for Rapid Prototyping

CNC Machining

Our CNC machining capacity is totally unrivalled. This means your parts will be shipped on time, every single time. At Protolabs, our CNC machining services are available with finishing options like anodising and chromate plating.

Injection Moulding for Rapid Prototyping

Injection Moulding

Are you ready for a more cost-effective and time-efficient way to manufacture parts? Our injection moulding services utilise aluminium moulds which start at just £995, and are also available in as fast as 1 day with our quick turnaround service. Need more? Our finishing options for Injection moulding include pad printing, laser engraving, threaded inserts, and more.

Our automated design analysis and quick-turn prototype manufacturing accelerates product development by integrating rapid prototyping into the design, testing, and validation phases.


How to Leverage Rapid Prototyping?


Discover how rapid prototyping can transform the success of your product design with speed and precision, to help you get to market sooner, with greater success.

1. Design Feedback

  • Have physical prototypes in hand within days to quickly modify designs during early product development.
  • Produce multiple prototypes at the same time to compare and iterate designs simultaneously.
  • Reduce overall time to market with an iterative product development cycle.

2. Iterative Development

  • Receive interactive design for manufacturability feedback with every quote to make early adjustments before prototyping begins.
  • Talk with customer service engineers to discuss any design challenges and manufacturing questions that arise.

3. Design Validation

  • Test the form and fit of components with small quantities of accurate 3D-printed and machined parts.
  • Perform functional tests with prototypes manufactured in production-grade materials.

4. Market Testing

  • Produce a pilot run of injection-moulded parts to validate market interest before launch.
  • Reduce financial risk at market launch by implementing affordable aluminium tooling before full-scale production begins.

What are the Benefits of Rapid Prototyping?


Reduce new product development cycles.


Mitigate internal prototype capacity issues.


Reduce risks by prototyping in final-grade materials.


Streamline product development by incorporating rapid prototyping into the design process.


Iterate multiple designs simultaneously.


Reduce time to market by validating design quicker.


Rapid Prototyping Materials

Among each of our service lines you'll find several thermoplastic, thermoset, elastomeric, and metal options, so you can prototype and test in actual production-grade materials.

View Materials

dfm analysis

Online Quoting and Manufacturing Analysis

Upload a 3D CAD file to get an online quote. Each quote includes real-time pricing and manufacturing analysis. To start, simply a select a manufacturing process and upload a 3D CAD file.

We can accept the following file types:

  • SolidWorks (.sldprt)
  • ProE (.prt)
  • IGES (.igs)
  • STEP (.stp)
  • ACIS (.sat)
  • Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b)
  • .stl files 
Get a Quote

What is Rapid Prototyping?

expand_less expand_more

Rapid prototyping is a development process used to quickly create functional models or prototypes of a product. It allows designers, developers and stakeholders to visualise and test concepts before investing significant time and resource.

Why is Rapid Prototyping Important?

expand_less expand_more

Rapid prototyping accelerates the design and development process, whilst reducing the risk of costly errors. It supports with providing feedback early on in the development cycle. This way any design flaws, features that need refining and improvements required can be made before moving on to production.

How is Rapid Prototyping different from Traditional Development Methods?

expand_less expand_more

Traditional methods often involve extensive and timely planning and documentation before development actually begins. Rapid prototyping focuses on speed and efficiency, allowing concepts to be tested and validated early on in the process.

What Processes are used for Rapid Prototyping?

expand_less expand_more

All of the processes at Protolabs are suitable and can be used for rapid prototyping; injection moulding, CNC machining and 3D printing.

How to Get Your Prototypes Manufactured?

Upload your CAD file

Upload a CAD File

To start, simply select a manufacturing process and upload a 3D CAD file.

We can accept the following file types:

  • SolidWorks (.sldprt)
  • ProE (.prt)
  • IGES (.igs)
  • STEP (.stp)
  • ACIS (.sat)
  • Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b)
  • .stl files
View Accepted Files
Hide Accepted Files
receive manufacturing analysis on your prototype design

Design Analysis is Performed

Within a few hours we'll send you design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis and real-time pricing.

Along with accurate pricing, our interactive quote will call out any difficult to manufacture features based on the manufacturing process you have selected. This can range from difficult to mould undercuts to deep holes on machined parts.

View DFM Details
Hide DFM Details
Get your prototype parts manufactured

Prototype Manufacturing Begins

Once you review your quote and place your order, we'll start the manufacturing process of your prototype parts. We also offer finishing options.

We offer a variety of finishing options for all manufacturing services. These can range from powder coat finishing and anodizing to basic assembly and threaded inserts.

View Finishing Options
Hide Finishing Options
Prototype parts shipped to you

Parts are Shipped!

Our digital manufacturing process allows us to produce parts in as fast as 1 day.

sup spoon
Prototyping Service: Award Winning Cutlery

This case study reveals how an award-winning idea to help people with shaky hands eat more easily was developed by Glasgow-based 4C Design and quickly brought into cost-effective production by Protolabs’ rapid moulding service.

Read Case Study