Protolabs invests £10.5 million to increase AM capability
May 20, 2020
Protolabs, Maple Plain, Minnesota, USA, has begun work on a £10.5 million facility that is expected to increase its Additive Manufacturing capability by 50%, in order to meet growing demand.
The company is building a new 5,000 m2 production facility in Putzbrunn, Germany, that will provide customers with greater access to its automated manufacturing processes and quality systems. Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacting economies across Europe, construction of the new building has started, with the initial shell scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2020, and the fit-out and machinery due to be installed in several stages beginning in May 2021.
Additionally, up to twenty-five further machines and additional equipment will be added to the existing technology, whilst a CNC machining centre, with a 5-axis milling machine, will be installed to support the finishing of additively manufactured parts for high-end applications. Automated finishing, colouring and painting systems will also be part of the expansion, along with additional AM technologies in the future.
Protolabs explains that this is the latest investment by the company in supporting its global customer base across automotive, aerospace, medical, electronics and heavy industry, and follows a £5 million extension currently being finalised at its European Headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, UK.
“We are the world’s fastest digital manufacturer, but a major goal for us is to produce 3D printed parts even faster,” stated Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe. “When a finished design enters our online ordering platform it goes through a short feasibility check by our expert design team and then on to be printed. The new facility will give us the capacity to speed this process up even more to real-time.”
Klass added, “We will be able to move all departments from the current building in Feldkirchen near Munich to Putzbrunn and, importantly, with the larger production area and 50% more capacity, we’ll be able to deliver even more projects in as little as one day. With optimised work processes and additional employees, the new location will support our activity in the UK, especially our ability to produce certified medical devices under ISO 13485.”
He concluded, “Our expansion plans in the UK and Germany show that our concept of digitalisation and automated processes is in line with the spirit of the times and the requirement to support our customers in bringing products to market in the shortest possible time.”