Protolabs’ new e-commerce platform offers design engineers greater speed and flexibility
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The world’s fastest digital manufacturer of custom prototypes and low-volume production parts has launched a revolutionary new e-commerce platform for the UK.
Protolabs, which work with thousands of product designers, engineers and procurement teams across the country, has responded to the need for reduced product development time and evolved project management tools required for the growing shift towards on-demand manufacturing.
The UK launch will shortly be followed by a roll-out of the platform across the Americas in January 2021 and comes at a time when global engineering and manufacturing sectors are looking to respond to Covid-19 and the extreme economic challenges it has created for markets and supply chains.
Rich Baker, Chief Technology Officer at Protolabs, commented: “Speed in testing parts, speed in getting products to market fast, speed in manufacturing throughout product life cycles – these have always been vital elements in any project.
However, they are even more pressing now. Unprecedented changes in many of our markets are underway due to customer demand and the ongoing pandemic, but technological advancements in manufacturing are throwing the doors of innovation wide open to allow suppliers and their customer to pivot quickly. And that agility is often the difference between success and failure.
Protolabs’ new digital manufacturing platform allows users to easily manage their prototyping and on-demand manufacturing requirements. Like the previous platform, it still offers quotes for parts with Design for Manufacturability (DFM) analysis, but now has a more intuitive, user-friendly and even faster interface.
Users can create projects with multiple uploads, quotes can be shared with colleagues, real time pricing is visible based on project specifications and it offers all three of the firm’s manufacturing services – 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding – in one place.
Within Protolabs’ injection moulding service, to help choose between prototyping and on-demand manufacturing, the new platform includes a price curve tool, which compares one option against the other. The tool gives users full cost visibility – as part quantity is adjusted, cost changes are shown in real-time.
This will support bridge tooling, help with managing supply chain emergencies and delivers along the whole product lifecycle. Customers also benefit from guaranteed lifetime mould maintenance and ownership.
Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe, commented: “The focus now, more than ever, is on speed and making sure new products are either first to market or ready when the end customer needs them. That is why we are so excited to be launching our new e-commerce platform in the UK and Europe.
“We are the leading industrial supplier of low volume, high mix parts across 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding. To achieve this, we have given customers even more control.”
He concluded: “21-years-ago we revolutionised manufacturing by automating the traditional manufacturing process and now we are revolutionising it again through this new platform. It’s a very exciting time for our sector and we recognise that, as customers need change, then the supply chain has to play a role in offering increased speed and greater manufacturing flexibility.”
Operating from manufacturing facilities across three continents, Protolabs helps customers to accelerate product development in a number of industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical, heavy industry and electronics.
Recent investments include a £5m expansion to its European headquarters in Telford to support growth in demand for CNC machining and injection moulding and a €15m euro investment in a new 3D printing facility in Putzbrunn, Germany.
The company typically produces 1 to 50+ 3D printed parts in 1 to 7 days, 1 to 200+ CNC machined parts in 1 to 3 days and 25 to 10,000+ injection moulded parts in 1 to 15 days