Daniel Evans, manufacturing engineer at Protolabs, says demand for rapid CNC machining capability for aluminium 6082 is rising, with companies looking to develop their own products and needing prototypes to prove the parts quickly.

“Typically, you would use this service for prototyping, or perhaps low volume parts. With speed to market more important than ever, we can help give our customers a real competitive edge. We’re finding they are coming to us because we can reliably machine and ship their parts in a wide range of metals and plastics far more quickly than other suppliers.

“This new big block CNC machining capability for aluminium 6082 makes this rapid prototyping and manufacturing service available for even more of their projects, especially important for companies which are looking to reshore.”

With a shipping time as fast as one day from the initial CAD upload, the company can now mill from blocks of up to 559 by 356 by 95 mm, performed on 3-axis CNC machines. In common with its other milling services, the company can maintain a machining tolerance of +/- 0.1 mm to produce parts as thin as 0.5 mm in regions, if the nominal part thickness is above 1 mm.

Evans concludes: “We have streamlined our manufacturing and prototyping service to such an extent that we can turn around parts from initial design to shipping in less time than most third parties would take to get a quote back.One of the reasons is that we have automated the initial design analysis and quoting system. While we do have application engineers who will get involved with the customer to advise them if needed, this automated process speeds up delivery considerably.”