Proto Labs, Inc., based in Maple Plain, Minnesota, USA, has announced that product designers can now order Metal Injection Moulded (MIM) parts as a standard option under its Protomold injection moulding service. Utilising the same approach that the company claims has revolutionised plastic injection moulding, Proto Labs has applied its proprietary technology to make short-run MIM stainless steel parts available faster than ever before. The company has also added Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) to its materials portfolio, a thermoset engineering material that is particularly suitable for applications in medical, electronics and consumer products industries.
“Over the past year our research and development program has quickly advanced Liquid Silicone Rubber moulding and Metal Injection Moulding with the quality and quick turnaround that is the trademark of Proto Labs. I’m excited to begin my tenure at Proto Labs with the launch of these new moulding processes to our customers. Incorporating LSR and MIM into our existing list of materials allows current and future customers more diversity in prototyping and small-volume manufacturing – something every product developer focused on taking products from idea to market faster can appreciate,” stated Vicki Holt, President and CEO of Proto Labs.
The company has also announced the launch of its Additive Manufacturing service through the acquisition of privately held FineLine Prototyping, Inc. The addition of Additive Manufacturing expands Proto Labs’ services to address a wider spectrum of need for the product developer. FineLine, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, offers Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering and Direct Metal Laser Sintering services to corporate customers in a wide variety of industries, including medical, aerospace, computer/electronics, consumer products and industrial machinery, among others.
FineLine generated revenues of approximately $9.7 million in 2013. Under terms of the agreement, Proto Labs will acquire FineLine for a total consideration of $38 million. Proto Labs will continue to operate the FineLine facility out of Raleigh and expects to retain the services of all key employees, including FineLine principals Rob Connelly and Craig Goff to lead the global Additive Manufacturing services.
The addition of an Additive Manufacturing service is, states Proto Lab, highly complementary to its existing CNC machining and injection moulding services. Historically, 70% of Proto Labs customers also utilise an Additive Manufacturing service in their product development process. Proto Labs will announce its new Additive Manufacturing service to its substantial database of over 300,000 product developers to leverage the inherent synergy this new service provides.
“We are excited to launch our new Additive Manufacturing service,” stated Holt. “The FineLine acquisition is the first step in building this new service. We will look to expand our Additive Manufacturing capabilities in the US, as well as globally, through both organic growth and potential new acquisitions. Our customers have been asking us to provide Additive Manufacturing services for quite some time, and now we can address that need. We’re accepting orders starting today.”