Rapid manufacturer Proto Labs, Inc. has announced new enhancements to its FineLine Additive Manufacturing service that will enable the prototyping and low-volume production company to ship 3D-printed parts in as fast as one day.
The service enables designers and engineers using either stereolithography or selective laser sintering to upload 3D CAD models at protolabs.com to see if their designs qualify for quick-turn service.
Proto Labs incorporated additive manufacturing into its existing CNC machining and injection moulding services in April 2014 when the company acquired FineLine Prototyping for $38 million. Since then, the rapid prototyping company been building its 3D printing capabilities to match the production speeds of its machining and moulding processes.
“We’re extremely excited that customers can now get additive parts built with the same one- and two-day turnaround time as our other manufacturing services,” explained Rob Connelly, vice president of additive manufacturing at Proto Labs.
Stereolithography translates CAD models into physical plastic parts by laser-curing liquid thermoset resin into thousands of thin layers until a final part is formed; selective laser sintering works in a similar fashion, but draws onto nylon powder to form a desired shape. Both processes are used regularly to create concept models, complex parts and other prototypes for nearly any field.
Connelly added: “We work with engineers every day who are developing products in industries like medical, lighting and aerospace, and many need parts as fast as possible in order to bring products to market faster. It’s our goal that the new quick-turn additive capabilities will make it even easier for them to do just that.”