Accelerating Production of Industrial Equipment and Components
Meet the growing need for connected hardware while still supporting legacy equipment and machinery with custom parts
Industrial equipment and machinery manufacturers are living in two worlds these days. They are dramatically embracing digital connectivity with features like sensors and actuators that exchange critical data with other machines and computer networks. At the same time, many of these companies must also service and support a large inventory of existing equipment and machinery with elongated life cycles—products that may have been put into use decades ago. From farm machinery OEMs and industrial truck and tractor makers to manufacturers of oil field machinery and other industrial equipment, companies can advance into the digital era while not abandoning their existing equipment with the help of digital manufacturing.
Why Protolabs for Industrial Equipment and Machinery Components?
Access to over 1,000 mills, presses, and 3D printers running 24/7 for end-use production parts within days.
Choose from more than 30 different metal alloys and hundreds of industrial-grade plastic materials.
Jigs and Fixtures
Get production floor aids that help streamline assembly and create efficient workflow processes.
Quickly replace one-off equipment components with machined parts in as fast as 24 hours.
Use elastomeric materials like silicone rubber and TPU for highly durable seals, gaskets, and other internal components.
Speeding up Braking for Jacobs Vehicle Systems
Without engine braking, trucking as we know it would be impossible. When not using the accelerator, engine brakes use the power of an engine to slow down trucks—a mission-critical element of modern trucking. They do that in tandem with physical brakes. But not all engine brakes are the same, mostly due to space considerations in different trucks—it’s never a one-size-fits-all proposition. Because of this, Connecticut-based Jacobs Vehicle Systems turned to Rapid Manufacturing, a Protolabs company, to develop multiple prototypes with different form factors, then carry those through to the production phase.
What Materials Work Best for Industrial Applications
Steel and Stainless Steel. It’s strong, machinable, and relatively low in cost. Oil and gas fields, for example, often favor stainless steel for its corrosion resistance. Superalloys such as 3D-printed Inconel are an alternative for demanding applications.
Aluminum. Though there is less concern with the component weight of industrial equipment and machinery, aluminum is often a metal of choice because of its excellent machinability and lower overall manufacturing cost.
Thermosets and Thermoplastics. Liquid silicone rubber and other elastomers are widely used for applications requiring fuel-resistant parts while high-performance thermoplastics such as PEEK and PEI (Ultem) can serve as stand-ins for metal in some situations.
Commodity Plastics. As companies retrofit existing equipment with computer electronics to meet connectivity demands, a large range of versatile and affordable thermoplastics can be leveraged.
We have several capabilities within our services and processes ideal for industrial. A few common applications include:
- Machine and tool parts
- Jigs and fixtures
- Electronic housings
- Pumps and accessories
- Oil and gas extraction equipment
- General industrial machinery
- Conveyors and conveying equipment
- Parts for tractors, bulldozers, forklifts, and other heavy construction and individual vehicles and equipment
“[Protolabs] supports us by turning quotes around almost immediately with their outstanding web interface to track purchase requests and orders.”