The Maple Plain, Minn.–based company announced yesterday that it has launched metal 3D printing production capabilities. The new secondary processes are meant to improve the strength, dimensional accuracy and cosmetic appearance of metal parts so that they can be used beyond prototyping. Enhanced inspection reporting is also available.
Protolabs officials are touting the new capabilities as ideal for complex surgical instruments, surgical guides, patient-matched orthopedics and assistant devices.
“We see it every day. The designers and engineers we work with in industries like aerospace and medtech are choosing additive manufacturing for complex components in high-requirement applications,” said Greg Thompson, global product manager for 3D printing at Protolabs.
“These new production capabilities help them optimize their designs to enhance performance, reduce costs and consolidate supply chains— and do so much faster than ever before,” Thompson said in a new release.
Protolabs uses ISO 9001 and AS9100D-certified direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology for its metal 3D printing. It’s then possible post-build to turn to several secondary options including post-process machining, tapping, reaming and heat treatments. There are also quality control measures such as powder analysis, material traceability and process validation.
On top of the new metal 3D printing production capabilities, Protolabs has joined GE’s Additive Manufacturing Network and MIT’s Additive Manufacturing Consortium and has turned to Wohlers Associates for an immersive 3D printing design course. The company has also added 25 GE Additive Concept Laser Mlab and M2 machines for DMLS production.
“We’re committed to servicing our customers’ needs throughout the product life cycle across both conventional and additive manufacturing processes,” Thompson said.
Protolabs boasts that it is able to produce custom parts and assemblies in as fast as a day through its automated 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection molding processes.