Proto Labs is the world's fastest source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts. Our quick-turn injection molding service manufactures real engineering-grade thermoplastic, liquid silicone rubber and metal parts in 15 days or less. Injection molding is often used for prototyping and short-run manufacturing up to 10,000+ plastic parts and bridge tooling before moving to large-scale manufacturing. Along with plastic injection molding, our advanced metal injection molding (MIM) and liquid silicone rubber (LSR) molding processes produce quantities of 25 to 5,000+ metal and LSR parts.
Prototyping Processes – Choosing the best process for your project
Product designers and engineers have a number of prototyping options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. From 3D printing to CNC machining to injection molding, our Prototyping Processes white paper is a highly technical look at the various manufacturing processes. It lets you weigh the benefits of each, so you can focus in on a process best suited for your project.
Reducing Risk Through On-Demand Manufacturing
Strategic management of the supply chain is a critical component of product development and life cycle planning, as well as a necessary element for risk mitigation. Leading companies no longer treat it as a tactical cost center that is purely an operational concern, but rather a cross-functional initiative geared towards building capabilities that will enable growth and minimize risk.
Design Essentials for 3D Printing
Industrial 3D printing opens up many new design possibilities, but it’s important to keep a few fundamental principles in mind when designing for additive manufacturing processes. Most of these are fairly obvious like feature resolution, surface finish, and material selection, but there’s more to 3D printing success than selecting the right material and process. If you will eventually need increased part quantities through more traditional processes like injection molding, you should considering the part’s moldability even when designing early prototypes. Understanding the fundamental principles for 3D printing will help you get the most out the versatile technology—whether you're iterating part design through rapid prototyping or creating end-use production parts.
Design Essentials for CNC Machining
Machining isn’t new on the manufacturing scene, but it is evolving from year-to-year. Understanding its latest capabilities can reap big rewards for product designers and engineers. After helping thousands of customers with custom prototypes and end-use, production parts, we’ve compiled our most valuable design tips to help you take full advantage of what CNC machining has to offer. Whether you need to choose between milling and turning, select the right material, or just want to reduce costs, we’ve got you covered.
Design Considerations for the Cosmetics of Injection-Molding Plastic Parts
The success of the products we design can often be affected by their visual appearance. In addition to the visual appearance, the cosmetics of a plastic part impacts the tactile feel. Quality judgments are often by how a product feels when we hold it or touch it.
Rapid Manufacturing for Metals
Take a walk to the nearest park or ball field and look down; thats not just a bunch of rocks and dirt down there. Every metal known to humankind comes from the ores and minerals found underground. To a manufacturing person, all that stuff under our feet is what rocks our world. Pardon the pun.
3D Printing Technologies for Prototyping and Production
Architects dont build without modeling. They create blueprints, produce renderings, and build 3D models. But while these planning tools may resemble the actual building in shape, there is no resemblance in size or materials. As a result, except in the case of manufactured or modular buildings, the finished product will be the first time that real building materials have come together in exactly that configuration. That is one of the reason that architecture tends to be conservative in its rate of change. Without real-world testing, big change is risky.
Liquid Silicone Rubber Takes the Heat
Our comprehensive white paper on liquid silicone rubber provides a detailed look at the injection-molding process and offers guidelines to achieve better molded LSR parts. While there are some shared similarities to thermoplastic injection molding, LSR is a thermoset material with a unique set of design characteristics.
Prototyping and Low-Volume Production for the Medical Industry
Developing parts and devices for the medical industry is a challenging, high-stakes process where speed (time to market) and accuracy are critical to success. Evaluating new product designs and materials; iterating those designs fast when needed; and selecting suppliers that can quickly, consistently and cost-effectively provide prototypes and low-volume production, are important factors in attaining this success.
Design Considerations for the Cosmetics of Injection-Molded Plastic Parts
Many factors affect the cosmetic appearance of injection-molded plastic parts. Some of these are within the control of the part designer, and some are not. In this white paper we describe several of the factors affecting cosmetic appearance, the interactions between those factors, and steps the designer can take to improve final appearance.
3D Printing Technologies for Prototyping and Production
There are many different additive manufacturing processes to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Our white paper examines the various 3D printing technologies SL, SLS, DMLS, FDM, PolyJet and others being used by todays product designers and engineers to build better, faster products.
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Maple Plain, MN