Protolabs, Maple Plain, Minnesota, USA, has launched new production capabilities for its metal Additive Manufacturing services. The new capabilities include secondary processes to improve the strength, dimensional accuracy and cosmetic appearance of metal parts. As part of the launch, enhanced inspection reporting is also said to be available.
Greg Thompson, Global Product Manager for 3D printing at Protolabs, “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. These new production capabilities help them optimise their designs to enhance performance, reduce costs, and consolidate supply chains – and do so much faster than ever before.”
Protolabs uses Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) to additively manufacture parts for a range of customers. Its process is ISO 9001 and AS9100D-certified and, once parts are built, several secondary options like post-process machining, tapping, reaming, and heat treatments can be completed in-house, as well as quality control measures such as powder analysis, material traceability, and process validation.
The launch of its new production capabilities is said to be part of Protolabs’ continued effort to advance metal Additive Manufacturing beyond the prototyping phase. Thompson explained, “We’re committed to servicing our customers’ needs throughout the product life-cycle across both conventional and Additive Manufacturing processes.”
The company has recently taken a number of steps to reinforce this effort, including joining GE’s Additive Manufacturing Network and MIT’s Additive Manufacturing Consortium, as well as teaming with Wohlers Associates to develop a course on Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM). The company has also added capacity to support the growth of its metal AM services, and now houses twenty-five GE Additive Concept Laser Mlab and M2 machines.