Hey design engineers and CNC operators, have you tried Proto Labs’ online First Cut or Protomold CNC Machining Services? If you don’t already know about these guys, they could be quite a time and cost savings find for you.
After establishing Protolabs, this 10-year-old Minnesota-based company launched First Cut and Protomold to provide “quick turn” and/or low volume production of machined parts. Even just one-offs.
First Cut makes CNC machined plastic parts directly from 3D CAD models in as little as one day. Protomold makes injection molded prototypes and short- run production parts, also from 3D CAD models just as fast as First Cut.
The Proto Labs site recently added a wider range of materials to choose from including 7075-T651 aluminum, 260 brass, Radel R5500 and flame-retardant ABS.
Both divisions provide parts made directly from the customer’s own 3D CAD models which reduce the likelihood of errors. Proprietary software automates tool-path generation which decreases lead times and reduces costs.
For those of you outside the U.S., they recently opened up shops in Europe and Japan.
As usual, this is just FYI for our customers. We have not worked with ProtoLabs nor have any relationship with them. I’m just keeping my ear to the rail and passing on useful information.