February 2, 2021

Change is Good: The Evolution of a Digital Quoting Platform

By Protolabs
Protolabs' new quoting system
Customers have said our new digital quoting platform is faster, easier, and more intuitive.

We launched our company and its digital manufacturing model more than 20 years ago, and a necessary constant throughout those past two decades in the industry has been change. You simply cannot survive as a technology-forward manufacturing company that is complacent with where it is at—you have to be future-facing.

And we’ve worked tirelessly to embody that notion of perpetual evolution by expanding our manufacturing services, enhancing our capabilities, moving beyond the antiquated idea that quick-turn manufacturing is limited to prototyping. But we haven’t been the only ones with restless legs. The companies we work with and customers we serve—designers, engineers, product developers, procurement teams—have grown along with us. You have shortened development cycles, you need to react quickly to shifts in market demand, and you want an end-to-end supplier that you can leverage at any point in your manufacturing process, whether that’s prototyping or production.

So we have this partnership of sorts now—between manufacturing supplier and customer—with common challenges that need to be tackled. And often the first point of contact in this partnership is our quoting and ordering experience. You can get an interactive part quote, get design feedback on those parts, and place orders quickly. It’s a solid quoting engine that has served us and our customers well over the years. But in the spirit of evolution, we’ve been building something bigger, better, more productive—our all-new digital quoting platform.

Some might say if it ain’t broke, why fix it? We get it, and we want to reassure you that the things you’ve enjoyed about our previous platform are not going anywhere, they’ve just gotten better. Here are some reasons why change is good.

“You can configure multiple parts at once. This allows me to upload multiple parts, configure them all alongside each other, and then place a quote with just one PO number. And I have flexibility to move parts into a different quote." Rob Eavis, DesignX
Example of quoting options
Our system's new price curve tool compares prototyping vs. on-demand manufacturing options.

Faster, Easier, More Intuitive: You now have a much more intuitive, user-friendly, faster interface so you spend less time uploading, quoting, and ordering parts, and more time bringing ideas to market. It’s a total online, digital experience with seamless navigation and collaboration within your account.

All Services Within a Single Experience: Three of our services (molding, machining, 3D printing) are now united in a single platform for a much easier, less painful quoting and ordering experience.

More Collaboration Tools: You can create Projects, which allow for teams of users vs single user. Our Forward a Quote function lets you easily share quotes with collaborators, who can in turn adjust lead time, materials, finishing, and other options to see real-time pricing impact.

Enhanced Manufacturing Analysis: We’ve kept the overall DNA of our DFM intact from our previous platform but have improved your interactive analysis to make the walk-through of the manufacturing feedback clear and concise, and your 3D viewer and part thumbnails are now larger and easier to view.

Service Line Standouts: Each service has some unique features that we think you’ll enjoy. With injection molding, you can now view and discuss your gate and ejector pin layout before you order your tooling and parts.

With CNC machining, we’ve drastically simplified threading assignments allowing you to easily click on any hole features and assign required threads. And with 3D printing, we kept the pricing table intact so you can see real-time cost implications based on your choice of additive material and resolution level.

“It's an excellent system and a good design pointed to help you achieve something that is actually moldable. Instead of just going back and saying this can't be molded, this system takes you through step by step on what you need to do to make it moldable and it also gives advisories." Geoffrey Wain, Acquisition Systems

Integration of On-Demand Manufacturing: You now can find prototyping and production options for injection molding under one quoting roof. Additionally, our new Price Curve tool compares prototyping vs. on-demand manufacturing options so you have full visibility to total cost of ownership on molded parts throughout the product life cycle.

Total Transparency. You now have access to Receive By calendar for shipping simplicity—just choose the date you want parts shipped and see cost implications. You also get complete shipping costs and tax provided at checkout—not after. And like we mentioned earlier, your descriptive design feedback will help streamline manufacturability of your parts.

We have a lot more we want to talk about around our new digital quoting platform and now that we’ve introduced it, let’s show you around the place a little more with a look at how to navigate the system.

When you’ve acclimated yourselves, extend your tour with a deeper dive into our manufacturing analysis. We hope you enjoy.

Finally, check out the short video here on our evolving digital manufacturing platform, created to be faster, easier, and more intuitive.