Feb 10, 2017 | By Benedict

Quick-turn manufacturer Proto Labs, which uses 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection molding technologies to quickly produce custom parts, this week launched an insert molding service capable of producing 25 to 10,000-plus insert-molded parts in 15 days or less.

Minnesota-based Proto Labs, a company that specializes in the production of low-volume prototype parts, has been on our radar for a few years now—ever since it added 3D printing to its arsenal of rapid manufacturing systems as part of a $38 million takeover deal back in 2014. Now, in addition to its suite of additive manufacturing, CNC machining, and injection molding equipment, Proto Labs will be able to offer customers an insert molding service. Proto Labs says its brand-new system can produce 25 to 10,000-plus insert-molded parts in 15 days or less.

“We’re delighted to now be delivering a new service that designers and developers have been asking us for,” said Proto Labs CEO Vicki Holt. “As we help companies large and small accelerate their product development with our digital manufacturing methods, insert molding offers another important tool for these companies to make prototype or end-use parts as quickly as possible.”

Knob produced using Proto Labs' new insert molding service

Insert molding is the process of overmolding thermoplastic material around a preformed component, known as an insert, to create a finished part consisting of multiple materials—plastics, metals, or a combination of both. The inserts are usually made of metal, and are used to reinforce the mechanical properties of the plastic part. The metal inserts are placed into the mold to form the part.

Insert molding is a manufacturing technique suitable for producing a range of items, including electronic parts, medical equipment, housings, knobs, handles and dials. Many industries, such as medical, automotive, and consumer products, make use of the process, while product designers and engineers use insert molding to make parts stronger while reducing their weight, as well as production cost, time, and labor.

Proto Labs offers three 3D printing services: SLA, SLS, DMLS

Zebra Technologies, an Illinois-based information technology company that makes and sells marking, tracking, and printing technologies, was one of the first companies to take advantage of Proto Labs’ new inset molding service. “With quick-turn insert molding services at Proto Labs, I was able to receive functional prototypes in weeks,” said Chris Mazzucco, Design and Development Engineer at Zebra.

Proto Labs will continue to offer its three existing rapid manufacturing services: 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection molding. Within its 3D printing department, Proto Labs offers three additive manufacturing options: stereolithography (SLA), for thermoplastic-like parts; selective laser sintering (SLS), for industrial-grade nylon components; and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), for fully dense metal production. The company says it can produce between one and 50+ 3D printed parts for a customer in as little as one day.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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