Proto Labs (Protolabs)

Canvas Category Software : Cloud Manufacturing : General

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Primary Location Maple Plain, Minnesota, United States

Financial Status NYSE: PRLB

Our company was founded in 1999 by Larry Lukis, a successful entrepreneur and computer geek who wanted to radically reduce the time it took to get injection-molded plastic prototype parts. His solution was to automate the traditional manufacturing process by developing complex software that communicated with a network of mills and presses. As a result, plastic and metal parts could be produced in a fraction of the time it had ever taken before. Over the next decade, we would continue to expand our injection molding envelope, introduce quick-turn CNC machining, and open global facilities in Europe and Japan. In 2014, we launched industrial-grade 3D printing services to allow product developers, designers, and engineers an easier path to move from early prototyping to low-volume production.

Assembly Line

🖨️ Replacement Parts are a 3D Print Away

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✍️ Author: Eric Utley

🔖 Topics: 3D Printing

🏢 Organizations: Protolabs

The first and largest hurdle to 3D printing a replacement part is getting a 3D CAD of the part to accurately describe the part’s geometry. In rare circumstances, you may get lucky and find such a file on the internet or find a technical drawing identifying the dimensions. For a simple part you could recreate the design by taking careful measurements with calipers, but often for more complex or organic parts, the part will need to be 3D scanned. This process can cost a few hundred dollars with a company that offers a professional service. Increasingly, there are solutions to 3D scan using smartphones, but the results are quite inaccurate. The 3D scan data may require some additional work to get it a clean, 3D-printable file. An STL file can be used for 3D printing, but STP files are better because they can be used for a myriad of other manufacturing processes outside of 3D printing.

3D printing can be used to satisfy demand for low volumes of custom parts that may be lighter or personalized. For many industries, there is a small segment of the market willing to pay more for a custom version of the product, and 3D printing gives an avenue to explore and satisfy that market demand.

Read more at Machine Design

🦾 Protolabs presents 2023 Robotics Manufacturing Status Report

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🔖 Topics: Industrial Robot, XaaS

🏢 Organizations: Protolabs

Industrial robots are also perceived as one of the most powerful ways to automate and build flexible production lines that enable customised production models like made-to-order and engineering-to-order. The latter model leads to mass customization i.e., the ability to produce highly customised products with only marginal increase in production cost.Industrial robots can automatically reconfigure production lines to produce alternative product variants with limited, or even zero, human intervention. Nevertheless, this flexible manufacturing approach is gradually reaching its limits, as radically differentiated products require changes, not only in the configuration of the production line, but also on the machinery used, especially when there is a need to manufacture a new product. Designing the production system of a new product requires efforts that are orders of magnitude higher than producing a variant of an existing product.

A key enabler of the advancement of robotics innovation is the leveraging of digital models to enable the manufacturing as a service (MaaS) paradigm. MaaS or digital manufacturing platforms offer access to various manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection moulding, and provide an easy transactional experience by allowing customers to upload their part designs to quickly get quotes for manufacturing costs and lead times.

Read more at Protolabs Blog

Protolabs Unveils Advanced Capabilities and Volume Pricing through Digital Network of Global Manufacturers

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🔖 Topics: Cloud Manufacturing, CNC machining, Injection molding, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling

🏢 Organizations: Protolabs

Digital manufacturing leader Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB) has significantly expanded its manufacturing capabilities and pricing options available to designers, engineers, and buyers worldwide. By leveraging the company’s digital network of manufacturers at Hubs, customers can access advanced capabilities, reduce part cost, and increase part quantities across CNC machining, injection molding, and 3D printing services. The expansion complements the low-volume, on-demand manufacturing services already available from Protolabs.

Read more at PR Newswire

Global Lighthouse Network: Unlocking Sustainability through Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies

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🔖 Topics: sustainability, IIoT

🏢 Organizations: World Economic Forum, McKinsey, Ericsson, Henkel, Schneider Electric, Flex, Johnson & Johnson, Protolabs, Foxconn, Innolux, Western Digital

The Global Lighthouse Network is a community of production sites and other facilities that are world leaders in the adoption and integration of the cutting-edge technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Lighthouses apply 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing and big data analytics to maximize efficiency and competitiveness at scale, transform business models and drive economic growth, while augmenting the workforce, protecting the environment and contributing to a learning journey for all-sized manufacturers across all geographies and industries.

Read more at World Economic Forum News Releases

How Data-driven Manufacturing Unlocks Speed and Transparency during Injection Molding Process

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🔖 Topics: computer-aided design, injection moulding, digital manufacturing

🏢 Organizations: Protolabs

Many of the parts we manufacture have at least one measurement that’s mission critical. Maybe the parts won’t work in an assembly unless a planned hole is within spec. Typical CAD models provide an opportunity to include specific dimensions, but what if you could tell your manufacturer early-on that dimension X is the one that makes or breaks a part? That’s where Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) comes in.

The CTQ specifications that you include in your quote and CAD model help to guide us during manufacturing, saving another critical dimension: TIME. We can often tell you if it’s possible for us to make your part before the mold is cut.

CTQ is also an important element of our digital manufacturing processes because we use these specs to evaluate initial runs of your parts. Let’s say that your parts require sample qualification or part validation. CTQ becomes even more crucial at that point because the data that flows from those initial shots can predict the future tolerances for those critical dimensions, revealing the suitability of end-use parts for a given assembly.

Read more at Protolabs Blog

Virtual Reality Tour of Protolabs' Manufacturing Facility