Protolabs expands CNC machining services; receives manufacturing leadership award

Protolabs milling equipmentThe year is off to a great start for Protolabs (Maple Plain, MN), the digital manufacturing company that has made a name for itself in rapid prototyping and on-demand manufacturing. It announced earlier this month that it has purchased a new manufacturing facility in Brooklyn Park, MN, which will be used primarily for its CNC machining services. In addition, the company’s pursuit of operational excellence was recognized yesterday by Frost & Sullivan, which named the company a winner in its annual Manufacturing Leadership Awards program.

The new 152,000-square-foot Brooklyn Park facility will be expanded by another 50,000 square feet. About 225 jobs at Protolabs’ Plymouth, MN, plant will relocate to the Brooklyn Park building, enabling the company to expand injection molding capacity in the Plymouth facility to support increased customer demand, said the company. Plymouth, Maple Plain and Brooklyn Park are all in the Twin Cities region. The new Brooklyn Park plant is scheduled to become fully operational by the end of 2018.

“CNC machining is one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our business, Rob Bodor, Vice President and General Manager, Americas, told PlasticsToday. “There’s strong demand in our quick-turn approach to delivering custom machined parts in less time and at less cost than through traditional models.”

In 2017, Protolabs recorded more than 27% growth in CNC machining, representing more than $100 million in business, according to the company. “Protolabs plans to be well-equipped to meet this volume, with both the increased capacity of the Brooklyn Park facility and the increased capacity and capability provided by our Rapid Manufacturing acquisition,” said Bodor. [Protolabs acquired Rapid Manufacturing, a sheet metal fabricator and CNC machining company, near the end of last year.] “Since the launch of CNC machining at Protolabs in 2007,” added Bodor, “we’ve expanded our offering to both milling and turning, broadened the types of materials our customers can order and have increased the speed at which we can deliver parts. Our state-of-the-art facility will add the capacity needed to serve this expanded offering.”

Rob Bodo, Protolabs
Rob Bodor, Vice President and General Manager, Americas, at Protolabs.

Protolabs serves a broad swathe of industries, but demand for machined parts is particularly strong in the medical device, electronics, industrial equipment, automotive and aerospace sectors, noted Bodor. 

Beyond the new machining facility, Protolabs continues to expand its manufacturing capacity with the addition of new equipment. Over the past 12 months, the company purchased more than 75 CNC mills and 25 injection molding presses in the United States. Additionally, it installed 25 CNC machines and six injection molding presses at the company’s facility in Telford, UK. Protolabs currently has worldwide manufacturing capacity of more than 1,000 presses, mills, lathes, press brakes, laser cutters and 3D printers. 

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