Proto Labs, well known for its rapid injection molding prototyping services, has added a suite of capabilities designed specifically to address the on-demand manufacturing needs of low-volume, high-mix manufacturers. For years, there has been a gap in manufacturing services for low-volume, custom-molded components. Companies have had to purchase in large volumes to meet the minimum order quantities often required by traditional manufacturers. This has required working with multiple vendors to address varied needs from prototyping to final part production, adding cost and time to part procurement. With its new suite of capabilities, Proto Labs has tailored its offerings to specifically address the needs of both prototyping and on-demand manufacturing.
“Since every manufacturing project is different, our two injection molding options allow customers to begin to focus on what is really needed from their tooling,” said Becky Cater, global product manager for injection molding at Proto Labs. “Whether it’s a product development need for molded prototypes or a strategic partnership for on-demand production parts, we now have a total solution for the entire life cycle of a product,” Cater said. The new on-demand manufacturing service offers customers more competitive part pricing along with guaranteed lifetime mold maintenance and ownership.
In addition, Proto Labs is reinforcing its commitment to quality by opening its first metrology lab for enhanced inspection reporting on end-use production parts. The metrology lab houses a range of standard inspection equipment, as well as state-of-the-art 3D scanners that provide an automated 360-degree look at parts within minutes. ProtoLabs also offers a digital inspection report that includes a precision surface scan with a detailed color map for a direct CAD-to-scan comparison to quickly identify dimensional variances on parts. “Digital inspection reporting is a final checkpoint for the digital thread as it moves from CAD model to final,” said Jeff Schipper, director of special operation and lead engineer in the metrology lab. “We’ve always provided our customers with front-end design analysis on their CAD models really fast. Digital inspections bookend this process by significantly reducing the cost and time associated with conventional inspection reporting.