General FAQs
CNC Machining
Injection Molding
3D Printing
Proto Labs
When should I use machining versus injection molding?
Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC Machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining prototype process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in one to three days.

Injection molding is better suited to support prototyping that needs larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically six to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don't justify expensive steel production tooling, Proto Labs can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in one to 15 days.

Our rapid injection molding process gives design engineers a fast and affordable way to get real injection-molded parts in prototype or low-volume quantities. We work with advanced aluminum alloys and high-speed CNC machining. Our process features an unprecedented degree of standardization and automation, which is how we deliver injection-molded parts faster, and more economically than anyone else in the world.

What is the advantage of working with Proto Labs?
Why should I choose your company to make my parts?

Both machining and injection molding services provide parts made directly from the customer’s 3D CAD model, reducing the likelihood of errors. Proprietary software automates tool-path generation to decrease manufacturing times and reduce costs.

What companies do you work with?
Due to the proprietary and competitive nature of projects we work on, we do not disclose a listing of our customers. However, we do regularly receive permission to share customer comments and case studies. Read them here.

What industries use Proto Labs services?
Proto Labs serves a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product and electronics.

What type of facilities does Proto Labs have?
Proto Labs currently has full-scale manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe and Japan. Additionally, we have sales offices in United States, England, France, Germany and Italy.

How many mills/presses/machines do you have?
We currently have more than 600 machines: roughly 400 CNC mills, 150 presses and 50 3D printers. With the long history of growth our company has, this number is always changing.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?
Are my parts made in the United States?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?
To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. Visit to get started. We'll return a detailed quote within hours. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggested solutions when available.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?
You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested. To get started, visit and select Get a Quote.

What types of files do you accept?
We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not adequate for quoting or making parts.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?
We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers that are familiar with our process.

Can Proto Labs perform secondary operations?
Secondary operations are currently only available for 3D printing processes, we are not offering additional secondary processes for injection molding or CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide First Article of Inspection Service?
We do not offer inspection services at this time.