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Norbert Sparrow

September 28, 2016

2 Min Read
Proto Labs to officially open 3D-printing hub on Manufacturing Day

This year’s Manufacturing Day will have special significance for Proto Labs (Maple Plain, MN): The on-demand manufacturer of prototypes and low-volume production parts is holding the invitation-only grand opening of its 77,000-square-foot additive-manufacturing facility in Cary, NC, on Oct. 7.

The new facility will house all of the company’s 3D printers in North America. The plant currently contains more than 70 machines, most of which are stereolithography based but also include some selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering machines. There is space for another 70 machines, and Proto Labs anticipates adding 170 more jobs at the facility over the next five years. It currently employs 150 people at the Cary plant.

Additive manufacturing has become a cornerstone of its digital manufacturing ecosystem, says the company. Its automated, software-enabled approach allows customers to upload, print and ship prototypes and low-volume custom parts in as little as a day.

The addition of the Cary facility reportedly makes Proto Labs one of the largest 3D printing manufacturing providers in the world.

Rapid over molding

The company also recently added rapid over-molding capabilities to its services, which it showcased at the recent co-located Medical Design & Manufacturing and PLASTEC event in Minneapolis. “Our customers were asking for this,” Becky Cater, Overmolding Product Panager, told PlasticsToday from the show floor. “Over molding is expensive and time consuming, and only makes sense for high-volume production using conventional techniques. We now offer a fast, cost-effective way to do that for low-volume products,” said Cater. Medical manufacturing is one of many sectors that can benefit from this technology, she added.

Over-molding soft-touch materials on surgical devices, for example, improves functionality and grip. Typically, designers produce two parts and cobble them together to produce a prototype, explained Cater. “Our rapid over-molding technology reduces risk and allows you to produce prototypes in the final materials, and it leaves you time to do revisions, as needed,” said Cater.

To learn more, read “Proto Labs launches rapid over-molding capabilities.”

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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