Low-volume Manufacturing Beyond Prototyping

Proto Labs' highly automated, digital manufacturing process not only creates custom prototypes extremely fast, it also provides a cost-effective way to manufacture low volumes of on-demand, end-use parts. Designers and engineers from every industry turn to Proto Labs' advanced injection molding, CNC machining and 3D printing services for engineering-grade plastic, metal and liquid silicone rubber parts.

When to use Proto Labs?

1

Low-volume Runs

  • Ideal for products with an annual sales volumes of a few thousand, or even a few hundred, units.
  • Proto Labs' affordable aluminum tooling makes it the most cost-effective method for this type of demand.
  • CNC milling and turning services can yield up to a few hundred end-use parts at a favorable cost per part.
  • For part geometries that are too complex to machine, selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering processes produce engineering-grade, end-use plastic and metal parts in low volumes.
2

Bridge Tooling

  • Minimize the "cost of waiting" for your steel tool and get to market quicker by having an aluminum tool made in a matter of days.
  • Test your manufacturing or assembly processes with a pilot run prior to mass production.
3

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.
4

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.


How is Proto Labs different?

  • We work only from 3D models, not drawings.
  • We provide interactive online quotes rather than manual quotes that can take days or weeks.
  • We perform in-process quality checks versus traditional first article inspections.
  • We're ISO 9001 and AS9100C certified and we welcome quality audits.


Total cost of ownership (tool + parts)


Time-to-market advantage


Managing production throughout product life cycle



3D Printing
CNC Machining
Injection Molding

Here is an overview of our industrial-grade 3D printing capabilities for end-use parts. For more information, visit our 3D printing  page.

SL

SLS

DMLS

Manufacturing Time* 1 to 7 days 1 to 7 days 7 days or less
Quantity 1 to 50+ parts 1 to 50+ parts 1 to 50+ parts
Benefits/Applications • Small, complex geometries
• Several finish options
• Early prototyping
• Greater durability over SL
• Functional prototypes
• Internal geometry and holes
• Full strength, 98% dense
• Internal geometry, holes
• Functional, end-use parts
Material Selection • ABS-like
• PC-like
• PP-like
• MicroFine Green
• Nickel-Plated (SLArmor)
• Nylon 11
• Nylon 12
• Nylon 12 (50% Glass Filled)
• Nylon 12 (25% Mineral Filled)
• Aluminum
• Cobalt Chrome
• Inconel 718
• Titanium
• Stainless Steel (17-4 and 316)
Max. Part Size • Normal Res: 29 in. by 25 in. by 21 in.
• High Res: 10 in. by 10 in. by 10 in.
• Micro Res: 5 in. by 5 in. by 2.5 in.
19 in. by 19 in. by 22 in. • Normal Res: 9.68 in. by 9.68 in. by 10.8 in.
• High Res: 3.5 in. by 3.5 in. by 2.9 in.
Min. Feature Size • Normal Res: 0.010 in.
• High Res: 0.004 in.
• Micro Res: 0.002 in.
0.030 in. • Normal Res: 0.015 in.
• High Res: 0.006 in.
Resolution/Layer Thickness • Normal Res: 0.004 in.
• High Res: 0.002 in.
• Micro Res: 0.001 in.
0.004 in. • Normal Res: 0.0012 in.
• High Res: 0.0008 in.
Tolerance • X/Y ±0.002 in. plus ±0.001 in./in.
• Z ±0.005 in. plus ±0.001 in./in.
±0.010 in. or ±0.0015 in./in. (whichever is greater) ±.003 in. plus 0.001 in./in.
Equipment Viper, iPro, ProJet 6000 and ProJet 8000 sPro 60 and SinterStation Pro Mlab and M2
*Manufacturing times are dependent on quantity requirements. We might deliver your parts in partial shipments in order to get them to you as quickly as possible.