Protolabs launches metal 3D printing production

Protolabs, which offers 3D printing bureau services, has now going beyond prototyping to offer metal production facilities.

Protolabs has added metal production manufacturing to its 3D printing services.

Protolabs uses direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology, having more than 25 GE Additive Concept Laser Mlab and M2 machines. Once parts are built, several secondary options like post-process machining, tapping, reaming, and heat treatments are available to improve the strength, dimensional accuracy, and cosmetic appearance of metal parts.

Protolabs also offers quality control measures like powder analysis, material traceability, and process validation as well as enhanced inspection reporting.

Greg Thompson, global product manager for 3D printing at Protolabs, says that designers and engineers are increasingly turning to additive manufacturing for complex components, adding: “These new production capabilities help them optimize their designs to enhance performance, reduce costs, and consolidate supply chains—and do so much faster than ever before.”

As well as metal printing, Protolabs also offers stereolithography, polyjet, selective laser sintering and HP’s Multi Jet Fusion machines. Protolabs recently joined both GE’s Additive Manufacturing Network and MIT’s Additive Manufacturing Consortium. 

Protolabs was established in 1999 to develop automating software that sped up the time to make injection-molded plastic prototype parts. By 2014 this had expanded into offering industrial-grade 3D printing services, with the company acquiring Rapid Manufacturing based in New Hampshire, USA, in 2017. The company has a number of factories in the US, UK, Germany and Japan.

It can produce custom parts and assemblies in a single day. It uses automated 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and injection molding processes. The aim is to help vendors take their products to market faster and to reduce development and production costs and it mainly serves the medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics markets. You can find more information on Protolabs at its website here


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