Additive ManufacturingExecutive Interviews

Protolabs Germany GM Daniel Cohn discusses AM for production opportunities

European growth opens up new opportunities for digital manufacturing services

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

With stock value still holding high, even after coming down a little from peaking in September,  and booming revenues, Protolabs is one of the most exciting companies in additive manufacturing. In many ways, the company is marking the transition from 3D as software to 3D as a service, which anticipates the rise of 3D printing as a production technology. At formnext 2019, Protolabs chose not to exhibit but we were still able to catch up with its General Manager in Germany, Daniel Cohn.

Daniel Cohn, General Manager at Proto Labs Germany since 2016

We had actually been chasing after Mr. Cohn for an interview some time, and he seemed very hard to reach. Instead, Mr. Cohn was very kind and accessible. He came to our booth during the show and was very forthcoming in sharing some key insights on Protolabs present and future AM business.

One of these is the reason why Protolabs did not participate as an exhibitor at formnext this year. In fact, a few other AM service companies – such as Skorpion and Zare – chose not to, although they were, of course, present as visitors. “I have to admit that for an AM service, the leads we collected last year were not so high in number. In addition, there is another exhibition running in the same days, which is  Compamed in Dusseldorf. The medical segment is very important for us right now and we decided to concentrate our efforts on that. But I have to admit that this is probably the most relevant specific event about professional 3D printing: at the beginning, I remember a lot of home printers, this year there is a lot of metal 3D and many other interesting technologies. I am looking forward to seeing, even more, finishing and post-processing, which is a segment of AM where we see a lot of margin for improvement in terms of process automation.”

Cohn joined Protolabs in September 2016 to manage the Feldkirchen facility. Protolabs also has another facility at Eschenlohe in Germany, both of which specialize in 3D printing technologies. Today the US remains Pro Labs key market, with revenues roughly 4 times large than in Europe, however, the split between plastic and metal, roughly 2 to 1, is similar in both areas. Germany, in particular, is an important market for Protolabs and is where the company has experienced significant growth. In 2016, in response to high customer demand, the production facility in Feldkirchen was expanded with new machines introduced to extend the range of industrial 3D printing processes available to include stereolithography and direct metal laser sintering.

In the three photos above: metal production systems at Protolabs. Below those, some of the first MultiJet Fusion systems installed at Protolabs.

“There are historical reasons for having two sites in Germany – Cohn explains. Our presence here is a combination of an already existing production site and an acquisition of an independent company focused on 3D printing.” Europe is now served from Germany and UK as production sites and commercial subsidiaries in many other counties. “One of my main tasks is to continue to expand the success of our facility in Feldkirchen,” continued Cohn.

“With the digital transformation currently underway, customer requirements are evolving; in response to this, our design for manufacturability, custom prototyping, bridge-tooling, and low-volume production services are increasingly important in the production cycle. My goal is to make our German operations as efficient as possible so that we can continue to provide optimum support to existing customers while expanding our customer portfolio across Europe for all our services: 3D printing; CNC machining and injection molding. Our flexibility, speed and scale of production underpin our success and positions Proto Labs as a key enabler in the 4th industrial revolution.”

PolyJet systems for advanced prototyping.

Naturally, 3D printing is not the main business for Protolabs at this time, with CNC machining and injection molding, still driving the core of Protolabs digital production approach. “Very often 3D printing is linked to industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, Protolabs was already in ‘smart’ in 1999 introducing the Industry 4.0 principles to get parts very fast thanks to the “unique” online purchasing process and quoting system (Protoquote). At the same time – Cohn added – 3D printing is growing a lot, year by year. I believe 3D printing will have an important future in many different businesses. “My focus is to create an even better customer experience with optimized production processes.”

One element that could finally drive AM into a real production alternative is new high-throughput technologies such as HP’s MJF, Carbon’s DSM but also the new LaserProFusion announced by EOS at formnext. “For sure it is interesting, and we are always interested in new technologies, especially the ones able to cut cost and saving time,” Cohn commented. “Hopefully, it will be ready by 2020, even if I know they told journalists it will be available first half of next year but it may take a bit longer for it to be fully available.”


Research 2021
Ceramic AM Market Opportunities and Trends

This market study from 3dpbm Research provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of the ceramic additive ma...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

Related Articles

Back to top button

We use cookies to give you the best online experience and for ads personalisation. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services



Join industry leaders and receive the latest insights on what really matters in AM!

This information will never be shared with 3rd parties

I’ve read and accept the privacy policy.*