Proto Labs: A Fast Track for New Products

Telford, UK: Proto Labs, recently accredited with ISO9001:2008, is delighted to announce that mould tool prices at Protomold now start at just £995 – (down from £1,195!).

This significant price reduction has been made possible by Protomold’s relentless investment in faster and more efficient manufacturing equipment and processes. A large proportion of this investment has been spent on the latest high-speed CNC machine centres, as well as upgrading to a 1.9 teraflop multi-processor analysis hub to power ProtoQuote™, its online quoting and ordering system.

It’s also thanks to these investments in new capital equipment that Protomold can now offer injection moulded parts up to 480 mm x 770 mm x 152.4 mm (76.2mm from a central parting line) in size.

Product designers submitting part models using the Protomold web-based quoting system, ProtoQuote™, will receive detailed manufacturability analysis and an all-in production price in as little as an hour.

Companies and design engineers who take advantage of Protomold’s rapid manufacturing process can easily react to last-minute design changes, schedule revisions and reduce time-to-market, whilst keeping costs within budget.

First Cut

First Cut®, also 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.

So, what’s the difference between the many CNC machine shops that offer to cut plastic parts and First Cut’s service?

“Firstly”, explains John Tumelty, “Just like when using Protomold, First Cut customers upload their 3D CAD models online to receive a FirstQuote™, a detailed cost and manufacturing analysis. First Cut’s software – running on large-scale parallel processing computers – automatically produces the tool paths and then programs the CNC machines. This eliminates the upfront programming costs and delays typically associated with CNC machining, and makes it a fast and affordable process for quantities of 1-10+. Typically with conventional subcontract machining, one-offs cannot be obtained with such short lead times and are prohibitively expensive.”

From now on, 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.

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