Articles, Blog

Manufacturing Tour at Protolabs

Manufacturing Tour at Protolabs

since 1999 proto labs has been changing
the traditional rules of manufacturing due to our digital approach to quoting
and manufacturing as well as highly experienced staff ranging from software
engineers to mold technicians we can manufacture custom prototypes and low
volume production parts and as fast as one day and yes that includes
traditional manufacturing processes like CNC machining and injection molding in
addition to 3d printing find it hard to believe let’s take a tour through one of
our manufacturing facilities to see firsthand how we transform a customer’s
CAD model into physical parts it all starts with computing power in fact this
was one of the world’s most powerful computer clusters just five years ago it
has since been surpassed by the likes of Google and large government agencies
which will concede but it still remains the most advanced system in the
manufacturing industry once the customer uploads the design at proto labs comm
gets analyzed using our proprietary software and an automated quote is
generated and sent within a few minutes to a few hours the online quote contains
real-time pricing not a budgetary estimate as well as interactive design
feedback to improve manufacture ability with a traditional manufacturing company
this process can take many weeks but with our automated quoting software a
customer can assess iterate and validate multiple part designs in a single day of
needed once an order is played digital
instructions are sent to an interconnected network of manufacturing
machines on the production floor including EDM machines mills lathe
plastic and metal 3d printers and injection molding presses right now
you’re looking at more than 20 injection molding presses and 90 plus CNC machines
milling a way of what will soon become molds at this location we conduct
injection molding sample runs so this is only a fraction of our total number of
presses at our injection molding facility in Rosemount Minnesota we have
around 100 presses that handle our production runs which routinely produce
volumes as low as a few hundred often reach volumes of 25,000 parts and
occasionally make part runs over 1 million parts the molding process begins
by milling a block of metal into a mole typically we fabricate molds from
aluminum to reduce manufacturing time and cost but sometimes we turn to steel
depending on the parts geometry material or quantity and then if requires the
mold stops and an electrical discharge machining or EDM machine for a final
touch-up whether or not ADM is necessary depends on the part geometry and other
characteristics once machining is complete the mold goes through the build
room for hand polishing and pin placement and then is brought out to the
press after parts are molded they undergo a quality inspection and are
shipped out to customers this entire process can happen within days as we
move down to the floor we’ll pass by our liquid silicone rubber roof although not
a certified cleanroom we do keep it isolated from the rest of the facility
to ensure the highest quality right now we have 10 presses and dedicated
liquid silicone rubber molding in addition to producing silicone parts
standard optical medical and fuel resistant grades and in multiple
durometer these presses are vital to our over moulding process which creates two
material thermoplastic parts next let’s go check out our machining area on our
way we’ll pass by our stock of thermoplastic resin raw metal material
for molds and one of our mold storage areas every customer mold is stored
indefinitely at proto labs and every 2 years or so we check in with past
customers to see if they would like us to continue storing their mold now we’ve
entered our CNC machining area note that in this area we are machining parts not
molds here we have approximately 200 CNC Mills and lathe offering 3 and 5 axis
milling as well as turning with three axis live tooling capabilities in CNC
machining are highly automated process and design analysis software are keys to
us delivering machine parts faster than anyone else is not uncommon for us to
receive a customer’s design and ship the finished part within the same day let’s
wrap up our tour with a quick look at the shipping area as you’ll see when it
comes to shipping and proto labs less is more we don’t require much storage room
since we ship parts as fast as possible even after we ship parts out we retain
the digital part file so customers can always come back and easily order that
same part on demand thanks for joining us today we hope our
quick tour helped shed some light on how we might be able to lend a manufacturing
hand on your next project

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 thoughts on “Manufacturing Tour at Protolabs

  1. Impressive, extreme and powerful video, I can't believe how far we are from your technology. Keep in this way, I love to follow your online content.

  2. I wonder if they are able to put multiple different parts into a single mold, to be molded as a set …

  3. These Guys moved down onto my school so at every wednesday 16-20 we could come down and 3D print some things. My friend 3D printet a Diamond!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *