Proto Labs adds PolyJet to 3D printing services

Proto Labs PolyJet partOn-demand manufacturer of prototypes and low-volume production parts Proto Labs Inc. (Maple Plain, MN) announced the addition of PolyJet technology to its industrial 3D printing services at Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) in Cleveland yesterday. PolyJet provides product designers and engineers with the ability to manufacture elastomeric and overmolded prototypes without investing in tooling. 

“The PolyJet process can really help molders who aren’t sure of the durometer they want for their part,” Proto Labs Application Specialist Eric Utley told PlasticsToday from the company’s booth (#717) at ADM Cleveland. “You can dial a set at very low cost before committing to injection molding in the real material.” Gaskets, seals and housings are among the primary applications.

Product developers can leverage PolyJet to create 3D-printed parts comprised of both elastomeric and rigid materials. It complements overmolding, which the company added to its portfolio of services last year. Right now, PolyJet parts can be printed in black, white and clear materials, but colors will soon be available, noted Utley. The material selection includes multiple Shore A hardnesses of tear-resistant Agilus 30 for increased durability. PolyJet parts exhibit a smooth surface finish and can support complex geometries with flexible features, according to Proto Labs.

Like other 3D printing processes, PolyJet builds parts layer-by-layer. The machine jets out droplets of liquid photopolymers onto the build platform where they are immediately UV cured. Once the build is complete, support structures are removed, and the parts are ready without the need for additional finishing. 

“The addition of PolyJet is a testament to our effort to further expand our capabilities in a technology-agnostic manner,” said Rich Baker, CTO, in a prepared statement. “We firmly believe in providing a variety of manufacturing options, so that our customers can choose the best process for their particular application.”

The company also offers stereolithography, selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering among its 3D printing services. Last year, it opened a 77,000-square-foot additive-manufacturing facility in Cary, NC, making Proto Labs one of the largest 3D printing manufacturing providers in the world.

The company’s proprietary software and digital approach to manufacturing allows customers to upload a 3D CAD file of their design to the company’s website, receive an instant quote, and have 3D-printed parts in hand within days. In addition to 3D printing, Proto Labs is equipped with CNC machining and injection molding equipment to produce parts within days.

ADM Cleveland continues today at the Huntington Convention Center. Find out more at the event website.

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