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Any opinions expressed in these blog posts by non-Proto Labs employees do not necessarily reflect the views of the Company.


'Proposed Revision' Enhancement in ProtoQuote Makes Ordering Parts Even Easier

We hear it often: “How do I make my part moldable?” With the introduction of Proto Labs Proposed Revisions in our automated ProtoQuote® system, your part may qualify to receive our enhanced moldability analysis that automatically makes adjustments to areas like draft or wall thickness. Here’s how it works:

  • Upload a 3D CAD model of your part in any major file format.
  • If your part requires a simple amount of draft, a section is too thin or too thick, or other basic moldability modifications, we’ll generate an additional model for you to view directly in your ProtoQuote.
  • You can accept the new model or modify your original based on our moldability advisories.
  • If you accept our Proposed Revisions, you’re typically able to order parts right away; if you revise your original design, you can re-upload your model and we’ll send you a new quote within hours.

Our enhancement to ProtoQuote is designed to help you get better parts, faster. But keep in mind that more complex geometries and design modifications most likely won’t qualify for our automated Proposed Revisions, which is why we staff experienced Customer Service Engineers (877.479.3680) who can assist with any questions you have on how to improve your part’s moldability.


Red, White and Blue

The young lads on Team USA have had a solid showing in the World Cup. Taco Bell now has an amazing breakfast menu. The bald eagle is even undergoing a dramatic resurgence in the lower 48. What more could you ask out of America?!?

Well, raise those sparklers high in the air (like you just don’t care). Proto Labs is getting into the spirit of all things America! in the only way that a quick-turn manufacturing company filled with engineers can — by releasing new red, white and blue liquid silicone rubber color options. Obviously.

From the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee, and everywhere else, customers can now get LSR parts molded in these new colors in addition to Protomold purple, black and clear. All LSR colors are available in three durometers (3003/30 A/B, 3003/50 A/B and 3003/70 A/B) as we continue expanding our material and color options. LSR parts are strong and durable, like an old pair of blue jeans, and are frequently used in the automotive and medical industries as valves and seals.

If your injection-molding preferences lean less towards thermosets like LSR, and more towards thermoplastics, your menu of color options expands further. Protomold stocks more than 100 resins and about 45 different colorants. We can also add a 3-percent salt-and-pepper mix to white resin to provide additional colors (not an exact match, however).

Basically, it’s more material options in more colors, including the old red, white and blue in LSR. In the words of Lee Greenwood: “God Bless The U.S.A.!”

Have a great Independence Day.


Learn more about Proto Labs liquid silicone rubber molding services.


Checking In on Hockey and Manufacturing

Minnesota has formally dubbed itself “The State of Hockey,” a moniker that’s hard to argue with when the headquarters of Minnesota-based Proto Labs is brimming with hometown patriotism for its local team on the brink of advancing to the next round of the NHL playoffs. Hockey even shares some similar language with the manufacturing industry. Checking in hockey is a technique used to “stop or slow down the progress of something undesirable,” like Colorado Avalanche players. Checking in rubber components happens when “short, shallow surface cracks are caused by damaging action.” Both hockey and the molded rubber pucks that are used experience this disruptive nature of checking.

Proto Labs has had a long relationship with the athletic world. We’ve produced many parts for product developers who are changing the game with innovative sports products. We’ve made parts that help train tennis players, bring focus to batters awaiting fastballs, monitor oxygen levels in runners, train ballerinas and more. Our prototyping services help designers and engineers get parts quickly so they can test form, fit and function, make iterations if needed, and start field testing their products with actual athletes.

Our Journal cover story takes a look at why developing a product to compete in the sports market means first understanding the athlete it’s built for.


For Lego Enthusiasts Young and Old, Everything is Awesome

Let’s see a show of hands: Who’s built something out of Lego blocks? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Most of us have fond memories of our first Lego creation, and some of us (like myself), have been able to relive that nostalgia through their kids. Not liking Lego is basically the same as not liking cute puppies, ironic mustaches or Justin Timberlake.

Since the 1930s, the cult of Lego has grown for a company that has remained exciting to children yet relevant to grownups. Today, The Lego Group employs a team of master builders who design sets, they have a contingent of 100 Lego Ambassadors from around the world preaching Lego fundamentals, and they work with external Lego Certified Professionals who animate models, curate art exhibits and many other cool endeavors. They have larger-than-life retail stores, theme parks, television series, and most recently, released “The Lego Movie,” a blockbuster (no pun intended) film that has grossed more than $400 million at the box office.

In our latest issue of Proto Labs Journal, read about Lego, its culture and some prototyping parallels that can be gleaned from its philosophy.


It’s National Engineers Week!

Know an engineer? Give them a big hug, an epic high five, an aggressive fist bump, because it’s National Engineers Week (Feb. 16-22). It’s a seven-day celebration of our friends who help create nearly everything we interact with on a daily basis, from the cars we drive to the hinges on our laptop computers. The purpose of the week is to “observe how engineers make a difference in our world, increase public dialogue about the need for more engineers and bring engineering to life for kids, educators and parents.” At Proto Labs, we staff a team of experienced customer service and design engineers who work with a variety of engineers from companies large and small around the world. This engineering partnership helps develop some of the most innovative products found across all industries. 

Appreciation for our mathematically inclined honorees was evident in a recent study conducted by TE Connectivity Ltd. The survey of more than 1,000 men and women revealed that Americans see engineering professionals as the leading drivers of innovation. In fact, 87 percent associated invention with engineers and see their roles in innovation increasingly more important than it was 20 years ago. Mobile devices, robotics and wearable technologies were sighted as areas that would have the most impact on society in the next 10 years. 

Advancing innovation into the next decade and beyond involves educating students about different types of engineering — the four major fields being mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical with a subset of nearly 200 others. A large piece of National Engineers Week is teachers and parents finding creative ways to excite kids about science, math and technical skills. There’s a heightened level of events that are being held across the U.S. this week followed by periodic happenings throughout the year. A good place to look for an engineering-centric event in your city is at discovere.org, where you can search by location and event type. 

It’s no coincidence that National Engineers Week falls on the same week as Presidents Day. George Washington was considered one of the first engineers. The long list of notable engineering alumni is impressive, including some of the brightest minds in history, but there are few others with engineering backgrounds who may surprise you — filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, former supermodel Cindy Crawford, “Office Space” and “Bevis and Butt-head” creator Mike Judge, and Rocky Balboa’s Soviet Union arch enemy, Dolph Lundgren. So, good company.

Happy National Engineers Week!

Sources: www.discovere.org