Digital manufacturing company, Protolabs has launched production capabilities for its metal 3D printing service. The new capabilities use secondary processes to improve the strength, dimensional accuracy, and cosmetic appearance of metal parts. As part of the launch, enhanced inspection reporting is also available.
“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.”
Protolabs uses direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology—which is ISO 9001 and AS9100D-certified—to 3D print metal production parts. Once parts are built, several secondary options like post-process machining, tapping, reaming and heat treatments are possible, and quality control measures like powder analysis, material traceability and process validation are taken.
The production launch spotlights Protolabs’ effort toward advancing industrial 3D printing beyond prototyping. “We’re committed to servicing our customers’ needs throughout the product life cycle across both conventional and additive manufacturing processes,” explained Thompson.
A number of recent steps that Protolabs has taken reinforce this including joining GE’s Additive Manufacturing Network and MIT’s Additive Manufacturing Consortium along with teaming with Wohlers Associates for an immersive 3D printing design course. The company has also added capacity to support its growth with more than 25 GE Additive Concept Laser Mlab and M2 machines for DMLS production.