In most projects there is a need for prototyping and real life testing. By the use of our prototyping capabilities, workshops and test labs available in our close network, we can implement R&D fully, and merge the product into different production stages.
Protolab offers most services for prototyping. We have been working with prototyping for more than 15 years, and prototyping has evolved into a much wider range of services, methods and materials during these years. A lot of “3D printers” has come to the market recent years. While some of these are cheap enough to be acquired for in-house use, we see that when real functioning prototypes and display models are required, there is a need for a variety of materials and methods to get a good result. To us “3D printing” is just a part of the package. Using all kind of techniques is necessary to meet the needs for our clients as well as when we are working with product development projects in general. Advanced prototyping includes all type of technical departments, like electronics, all kind of mechanical parts, metal, plastics or even fabrics, surface treatment and coloring, as well as various packaging methods.
By using Polyurethane (PU) two-component resins along with silicone tools, we are able to cast complex parts in near end product materials without the need of investing time and a lot of money for an injection mould before the design is tried and determined.
SLA (Stereo Lithography Apparatus)
Printing from a free-form CAD file using a liquid resin (epoxy mostly), hardened by a laser beam, layer by layer.
SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
Printing from a free-form CAD file using a nylon powder, hardened by a laser beam within a nylon powder container, layer by layer. A lot of different powders can be used. Even rubber type materials can be used.
DMLS (Direct Laser Metal Sintering)
Same method as for SLS, but built form a metal powder instead of PA.
SLM (Selective Laser Melting)
Essentially the same method as for SLS and DLSM, but the laser actually melt the whole CAD design into one homogenous part, not in fused layer as for the SLS and DMLS.
For some special components we sometimes use Metal Sintering from powder due to high complexity or high cost using conventional methods like casting and CNC machining. Tooth wheels are an example where this method can be cost effective.
AM (Additive Manufacturing)
is a SLM (Selective Laser Melting) method, often mistaken for a prototype 3D-printing.
Although 3D-printing equipment companies constantly make developments towards the idea of 3D-printing , the range of suitable resins and materials needed for the process makes it hard to offer this in a very wide variety.
CNC (computer aided precise machining)
CNC is, for rapid prototyping purposes, refined with cutting tools and CNC-programs for use with a variety of plastic materials, allowing for very precise parts in true production materials. We can offer this for series at a higher speed and lower cost than the usual CNC workshop, as cutting plastics at high speed requires a special knowledge and equipment.
In our facilities, locally and in our network, we can perform assembly of complex prototypes using different techniques and materials.