Stephen Dyson, Protolabs’ Special Operations Manager, said, “The marked increase from customers across all industries wanting to take advantage of the speed and flexibility of On-Demand manufacturing brings with it a desire to simplify the supply chain. We are offering Secondary Services to reduce the number of process steps that the customer has to manage, saving time and resources.”
On-demand quality assurance
Headquartered in Minnesota, Protolabs has twelve manufacturing operations in the world, including the UK. The service bureau is also partners with some of the leading organizations in additive manufacturing such as MIT’s Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies (ADAPT). Last year, Protolabs also joined GE Additive’s Manufacturing Partner Network.
Protolabs specializes in various manufacturing technologies such as injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing. In addition to this, Protolabs is offering measurement analysis and inspection reporting, as part of its secondary services package.
Quality assurance in 3D printing
In 3D printing, FEA simulation and in-situ monitoring are among the ways to ensure quality. But the automotive and aerospace industry still prefers methods like the first article inspection (FAI) for quality assurance. In FAI, a product is measured by the manufacturer and supplier against initial measurements from 2D drawings or a 3D model. Such a method provides a physical record of the quality of a finished product. Because of this, it is also preferred by professionals in other industries.
Protolabs is now offering such measurement and inspection reports to its customers. Among the analysis reports offered by Protolabs is the quality inspection report, which includes X, Y, Z measurement of parts, a detailed measurement report, a CAD and 2D drawing comparison, and part approval process package, which is common in the automotive industry.
Dyson explained, “Our customers really value our rapid manufacturing services for low-volume parts and prototypes, but they now want the benefit of On-Demand manufacturing for production parts, which have higher expectations for sampling, measurement and process documentation.”
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Featured image shows inside a Protolabs manufacturing facility. Photo via Protolabs