Proto Labs Ltd
By blending their advanced proprietary software with accessible, customer service engineers, Proto Labs ensures that efficient 3D CAD models are developed before any actual production begins. When a part is ready, digital instructions are sent to one of hundreds in-house presses, mills, lathes and printers where they have the capacity to manufacture one design, or multiple designs simultaneously, without delays.
Whether uploading a part for3D printing, CNC machining or injection moulding, Proto Labs’ automated system creates a comprehensive design analysis and interactive quote within hours of a customer uploading their design. This means a 3D CAD design can be seamlessly turned into a working prototype with 1-10,000 parts produced in days.
Proto Labs 3D printing service, employs high tech machinery that can create extremely accurate prototypes with complex geometries. Three advanced processes are offered; stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), in a range a plastics and metals.
SL uses an ultraviolet laser focused to a small point to draw on the surface of a liquid thermoset resin and provides the widest selection of materials, best feature resolution and smoothest surface finish. The process works well for very small parts and complex geometries during early prototyping. In comparison to SL, SLS offers a large build volume, can produce parts with high complex geometries and creates durable prototypes made from tough nylon materials. DMLS in contrast, can use a variety of alloys, allowing prototypes to be functional hardware made out of the same material as production components.
Proto Labs CNC machining service produces real, functional parts directly from a 3D CAD model and is great for prototypes, functional testing, fixtures, jigs, one-off projects, or offloading internal machining resources.
The CNC machining offered at Proto Labs uses three-axis milling and turning to make engineering-grade plastic and metal prototypes and functional end-use parts in quantities of less than 200. Parts or prototypes machined using this service will have the true properties of the material the customer selected, not the “material-like” properties that some other rapid prototyping processes offer and will have surfaces free of the “stair-stepping” inherent in additive manufacturing.
For the final stage of the manufacturing process, Proto Labs provide quick-turn thermoplastic injection moulding (PIM) and optical grade liquid silicone rubber (LSR) moulding. These dynamic service can be used for prototyping and bridge tooling as well as low volume manufacturing (25 to 10,000 parts in one to fifteen days). By utilising advanced aluminium alloy moulds and offering hundreds of engineering-grade resins, Proto Labs produce moulded parts that are strong, with excellent finishes and eliminate the costly and time-consuming custom engineering that normally goes into the development of tooling.
Working in parallel to Proto Labs automated systems are a dedicated team of technical experts. These customer facing engineers offer advice and solutions to more complicated manufacturability issues, completely free of charge. This is addition to the manufacturability analysis provided with any quote, which highlights problem areas in the submitted design, provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests solutions when available.
To get a quote for any of Proto Labs’ services, simply upload a 3D CAD model to protolabs.co.uk to get started. All services return a detailed quote within hours.