September 27, 2021

Global Lighthouse Network Recognizes Protolabs as Leader in Fourth Industrial Revolution

By Protolabs

Guess what? Our injection molding facility in Plymouth, Minn. has been inducted into the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network, recognizing our industry leading efforts to implement Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies. Check out the full press release.

injection molding digital thread

What is the Global Lighthouse Network?

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, established the Global Lighthouse Network in 2018 in response to the global manufacturing community lagging in the adoption of 4IR technologies. The Lighthouse Network serves as a platform for manufacturers showing leadership in using 4IR technologies to share and learn from best practices while supporting partnerships that lead to industry-wide adoption.

We are excited to join this exclusive group as one of only 10 Lighthouse manufacturing facilities in the United States. Protolabs shares this honor with 24 Global Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, and Unilever, as members of this exclusive network.


solar panels on protolabs' molding facility
The solar array at our Plymouth, Minn. manufacturing includes nearly 1,900 solar panels and covers around 20% of our future energy use. More than 700 kilowatts of solar-powered manufacturing comes with tremendous environmental benefits. The solar power system will offset the equivalent of 1.3 million pounds of CO2 and preserve 775 acres of forest annually.

Industry 4.0 Tech at Protolabs

Our injection molding facility was recognized for its transformation as a prototype provider to now a full production provider through the implementation of 4IR technologies connecting its e-commerce experience to the shop floor. Its end-to-end connection—termed the digital thread—enables us as a technology-driven manufacturer to provide production lead times in as fast as one day, instead of two to three months with traditional manufacturers. While this recognition was specific to our Plymouth facility, it speaks to our efforts to expand these capabilities across our entire company. Check out a lot more about the technology behind our systems on our digital quoting hub.

The goal of manufacturing automation—in quoting, design analysis, quality inspections—is to provide you with the fastest and most reliable experience in the industry so you can innovate fast, launch to market faster, and reduce your supply chain risks along the way. Digital manufacturing continues to make it easier and more efficient to do that.

More info on the 2021 inductees and the mission of the global community to accelerate Fourth Industrial Revolution adoption is available in the newly published report, Global Lighthouse Network: Unlocking Sustainability Through 4IR.