First Cut Announces Prototype Parts in Aluminium

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First Cut, a service from Proto Labs, is delighted to announce that it can now offer CNC-machined prototype parts in aluminium, as well as a large range of engineering grade plastics.

First Cut provides prototype parts made directly from production intent material as quickly and easily as they can be produced using additive rapid prototype (RP) processes. CNC machined parts are far superior to RP produced parts due to their greater strength, better surface finish and more accurate dimensions. First Cut allows customers to make functional prototypes much earlier in the development cycle using production intent materials such as ABS, Nylon, PEEK, and now aluminium.

But, what’s the difference between the many RP services and First Cut’s service? Proto Labs’ European managing director, John Tumelty, explains:

“First Cut customers can upload their CAD models to receive a FirstQuote™: an interactive and firm-cost analysis, as well as a manufacturing feedback facility.

As soon as the customer places an order, First Cut’s software - running on large-scale parallel processing computers with 1.9 teraflops of processing power - automatically produces the tool paths required to program the CNC machines. This eliminates the non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs and delays, making it a fast and affordable process for quantities of between 1 and 10+. With conventional subcontract machining, one-offs usually can’t be obtained with short lead times and are often prohibitively expensive.”

So, adds Mr. Tumelty, there’s no need to settle for a prototype part that resembles the finished part in appearance only. Whatever material the designer specifies, a part produced by First Cut will embody many of the mechanical features and qualities anticipated in the production version.

Just two months ago, First Cut also announced the introduction of 4th-axis machining to its innovative, on-line rapid prototyping service.

“The beauty of our 4th-axis capability,” says Damian Hennessey, First Cut’s Commercial Manager, “is that we can now effectively rotate the machining plane off the vertical axis – what CNC machinists call the Z-axis – which means we are able to produce much more complicated prototype components.”

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