It was while developing a prototype of a Quantum Fuel Injection (QFI) system for a prospective European customer that manufacturing manager Richard Hoolahan turned to Proto Labs, as he explains: "I needed about 15-20 pre-production QFI systems for customer-testing, which meant they had to be fully functional and made from similar, if not the same materials that would be used in actual production units. "I used different rapid prototyping services to produce less-critical components but chose Proto Labs for the throttle crank and the stepper motor arm because there could be no compromises in the mechanical qualities of those parts: and the production method and the materials would be very similar to what we would use in the final version." Mr Hoolahan decided to use Proto Labs' protomold injection-moulding service to produce the stepper motor arm from glass-reinforced nylon. However, he says: "I chose firstcut's machining service to make the throttle crank from the same material, partly because I wanted to compare the processes and partly because creating a mould for the throttle crank would not have been cost-effective. At this stage in the product development, it is very important to minimise costs." He contacted Proto Labs using the company's online quotation system: firstquote. The system let him upload his 3D CAD models and then within hours sent back an accurate quote – not an estimate. "I was very impressed with the process," says Mr Hoolahan, "it was so easy. Online quoting systems rarely work as advertised, but this time they did. The Proto Labs system gave us a complete price based on our CAD models; a price that was updated instantly when we changed the quantity or material, so we knew what we would pay for what we wanted." "Proto Labs delivered exactly what they said they could which was exactly what I wanted. The QFI system performed as it was designed to and, as a result, we secured our first commercial order from that European motorcycle maker worth €4 million over the next 3 years."