Dear DE Reader:
When I was a teenager, I landed a great summer job at an elevator factory. The joint was big, hot, dirty and noisy. Loved it. It was my first exposure to the mid-20th century manufacturing from the inside. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to take many a manufacturing plant tour. A lot has changed inside since I was a nipper, and today’s Check it Out link takes you on a virtual tour of a 21st century facility that shows you what I mean.
It’s just five-plus minutes long, but a “Manufacturing Tour at Proto Labs” packs in a lot of good information to know if you’re a client already. However, if you have been mulling over having Proto Labs mill, turn, injection mold or 3D print your prototypes or low-volume production parts, it’s an absolute must-see.
The video takes you through their 166,000 sq. ft. facility in Plymouth, MN, beginning with a peek at its computer cluster. Computing power has been a key component of Proto Labs from the start. Basically, the company launched on the idea that an automated, digital manufacturing process could reduce the time it takes to make and deliver parts. Suffice it to say with 20.5 TFLOPS of compute power, it’s one big honker.
In a Nutshell: Manufacturing Tour at Proto Labs
• 5-minute video tour of a Proto Labs’ manufacturing facility.
• Provides insights for potential and existing clients.
• Explains how proprietary software analyzes manufacturability and true costs.
• Shows the milling, EDM, injection molding and other shop floors.
• Fun to watch; no registration required.
This leads to an explanation of how the company uses real-time price data to compute the actual cost—not an estimate—to make and ship your order. It also shows you some of their software’s interactive feedback used to validate a design or multiple designs for manufacturability when you upload your design order.
It’s then off to the fabrication floors. At this plant—Proto Labs has sites all over—there are CNC (computer numerical control) machines for making molds, 3- and 5-axis CNCs and lathes for making parts, injection molding presses, liquid silicon machines and EDM (electrical discharge machining) units. You get a good view inside of the work environment, the build room, stockrooms and so forth.
Of importance to potential customers, the video also covers materials, what happens with molds and part files after the job is done and the time frame for parts to ship.
“Manufacturing Tour at Proto Labs” is fun to watch. It’ll give you tire kickers an insight into who these guys are and what they can do for you. Hit today’s Check it Out link and see for yourself.
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, DE