David Barnes, EMEA product manager for injection moulding, says: “For some applications, such as interference parts, dimensional tolerance is extremely important. Our aim has always been to make the design engineer’s job simpler by providing the right amount of verifiable information. This means we can now guarantee the tolerances for all 50 of our stocked resins, and can advise on the accuracy of the other 1,500 that are available to customers across the world.
“For the stocked resins, the tolerance will be shown when customers upload their design and select the chosen material as part of our Protoquote system,” he continues. “It means that this information becomes part of the design for manufacturability analysis, which is typically available within a couple of hours.”
The tolerance of a part is only one consideration when it comes to selecting the right material for injection moulding, with customers also needing to consider other properties such as a requirement to be UV resistant if used in an external environment.
Says Barnes: “Customer service is vital in our company as we pride ourselves on being the fastest digital manufacturing resource available. Speed is important in today’s market and part of that is getting the design and manufacture of the component right first time. Our new resin tolerance guarantee is just one example of our continuous improvement process to make sure that our customers are satisfied with our service and the information that we provide to help them do their job better.
“In addition, recent investment in our metrology laboratory, with in-house CMM and 3D laser-scanning technology, enables us to measure and certify parts and prototypes more quickly,” he adds.
Protolabs, which works with thousands of product designers and engineers across Europe every year, is currently building a bespoke 50,000 sq ft extension that will house at least 50 additional CNC machine tools and a further 20 additional injection moulding presses. This £5 million investment will help the company meet growing demand from customers across the automotive, aerospace, medical, electronics and heavy engineering sectors. Over the course of the next two years, the company will also create 60 skilled jobs.