Proto Labs is a technology enabled UK manufacturer making components for companies, in every industry sector across Europe. Thanks to unique technology and automation of processes, Proto Labs has become the world’s fastest source for custom 3D printed, CNC machined and injection moulded parts.
Proto Labs has been recognised twice with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. “Since 2005, Proto Labs has grown from a small start-up with just a couple of machines, to an international company servicing the whole of Europe,” said Managing Director, Mr John Tumelty. “The key to our success has been how the Proto Labs process has radically changed the economics and lead times associated with obtaining 3D printed, machined and injection-moulded prototypes and low-volume production parts.”
Proto Labs focus lies in radically reducing the time taken to manufacture plastic, metal and liquid silicone rubber parts whether it is for prototyping or low-volume production. Their technology enables flexibility and speed of service, helping engineers and designers get their products to market first. “Our rapidly growing customer base demands more. Thriving on the challenge to deliver, we push the technology envelope to produce bigger and more complex parts, faster.” said Damian Hennessey, Proto Labs Commercial Director.
With automated online quoting and ordering, Proto Labs routinely ship parts to customers in just days – in most cases before they get a quote from conventional suppliers. Through the use of proprietary software running on very powerful computers, the quoting process can be completed fast. Mr Hennessey explains, “If you have a 3D CAD model of your product, you upload it via our secure websites and our automated system provides you with an online quote within hours. The quote you receive is fully interactive, includes a manufacturing feasibility analysis of your part and allows you to choose a material, quantity and delivery schedule, updating your quote instantly.”
This web-based, interactive quoting is offered along with proposed design modifications in an effort to resolve common moulding challenges early in the design process and in turn decrease its customers’ time-to-market. And the digital feedback is backed by a team of technical engineers and support team with the expertise to adapt based on individual cases.
Proto Labs has three service offerings across Europe: 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding technologies. Industrial-grade 3D printing can create extremely accurate and complex prototypes and functional end-use parts. 3D-printed parts are built by stereolithography, selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering processes, and in a range of plastics and metals.
CNC machining works well for smaller quantities of less than 200 parts. Using three-axis milling and turning to machine engineering-grade plastic and metal parts for prototyping and production, this service is perfect for functional testing, cylindrical applications, jigs and fixtures, and any one-off needs.
Injection moulding is used for quick-turn prototyping, bridge tooling and low-volume production of up to 10,000+ parts in less than three weeks. It’s offered in hundreds of thermoplastic and liquid silicone rubber materials and a range of finishes.
Proto Labs rapidly progresses with continuous improvements to both service and process. John Tumelty adds finally, “This award for Proto Labs proves that combined investment in both people and innovation, manufacturing in the UK can be successful – not just in the UK, but in the most competitive manufacturing markets across Europe.”