Protolabs Factory

Protolabs launches new manufacturing model for faster, cheaper production

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Protolabs has announced that it has invested in a new manufacturing model that aims to provide its growing customer base with access to more advanced capabilities, reduced part costs, and higher volume.

The manufacturing solutions provider said it has combined its own digital factories in the UK and Europe with a distributed network of manufacturers powered by Hubs, transforming the way production at all volumes can be achieved quickly and to the highest quality.

Customers across aerospace, automotive, construction, medical, and renewables should be able to benefit from the new capabilities across CNC machining, injection moulding, and 3D printing services by tapping into the digital network.

This addition complements the low-volume, on-demand manufacturing services already available from Protolabs sites in Telford, UK, and Putzbrunn, Germany.

“As a business, we are fortunate to speak and work with thousands of customers,” said Protolabs Europe VP and MD Bjoern Klaas. “Whether in Europe or worldwide, customers have told us that speed is still a priority when producing parts to support their product innovation or mitigate supply chain pressures.”

“However,” he continues, “with the pressure of reduced budgets comes an increased demand for cost-efficient parts, particularly at higher volumes and longer lead times. Our digital network directly addresses that need.”

With volume pricing options, customers should now be able to lower their overall piece-part price as quantity increases for machined and moulded parts.

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Protolabs said the new manufacturing model offers CNC machining, injection moulding, and 3D printing capabilities.

CNC machining should now offer tolerances down to ±0.020 mm, decorative and hard anodising, surface treatments such as black oxide, nickel, painting, chromate coating, and the possibility to produce larger quantities. Parts as large as two meters (2000mm x 1500mm x 200mm) and as small as 0.5mm should now also be supported.

Demanding injection moulding projects, in need of larger, deeper parts (as big as 1200 mm x 700 mm x 300 mm) and more complex parts should now be supported.

Finally, in terms of AM, the new Protolabs manufacturing model should offer FDM 3D printing for rapid prototyping of cost-efficient parts, in addition to Protolabs’ six other plastic and metal additive manufacturing technologies offered through its digital factories.

Protolabs said customers can access the new CNC machining and 3D printing capabilities through its website and expanded injection moulding options directly through the Hubs website.

“Never before has the industry seen a digital manufacturing model quite like this. Protolabs has combined the speed and quality of a service bureau built from the ground up with a highly vetted distributed network of global manufacturers,” said Hubs VP and CEO Alex Cappy.

“We’re pushing the envelope further than ever before to provide a truly seamless service to customers in the UK and Europe,” he concluded.


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