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New Metal Injection Molding Process Unveiled
Now offering metal injection molding (MIM), Proto Labs is able to "machine a mold and deliver around 5,000 parts in about three weeks," according to company president and CEO Vicki Holt
Business Wire photo
MAPLE PLAIN, Minn.—Over the past year, Proto Labs, Inc. has developed a new metal injection molding process that company officials describe as "an advanced process for molding low-volume stainless steel parts." Proto Labs formally introduced the new process, announcing that it is now available to its customers, at the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing trade show in New York on June 10-12.
Metal injection molding is a multi-step process that can produce complex, fully dense metal parts that are used across many different industries, particularly in the automotive, medical, and consumer electronics sectors.
"The launch of metal injection molding at Proto Labs lets us fill a nearly unoccupied space in the manufacturing industry, which is the short-run production of metal parts," said Proto Labs President and CEO, Vicki Holt, in a company release. "MIM has traditionally been limited to large-scale manufacturing of tens of thousands of parts; we can now machine a mold and deliver around 5,000 parts in about three weeks. We're thrilled to provide that service for product developers."
Proto Labs' integration of metal injection molding comes in parallel to its recent addition of liquid silicone rubber (LSR) molding, with the two new processes enhancing the established thermoplastic molding capabilities of Protomold. Additionally, the Minnesota-based company has made a major investment in additive manufacturing, having recently acquired FineLine Prototyping from Raleigh, North Carolina. The additive manufacturing service uses stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and direct metal laser sintering to build rapid prototype parts, and is seen as a complement to Proto Labs' Firstcut CNC Machining and Protomold Injection Molding services.
With molding, machining, and additive manufacturing, Proto Labs is in position to take its customers from the very early stages of prototyping up through mid-volume production. "We've added five new manufacturing processes in the first five months of 2014," said Holt. "It's all about talking with our customers, listening to what they want and providing it to them. MIM, LSR, and our three additive processes represent that."
Proto Labs (www.protolabs.com), a quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production, provides "Real Parts, Really Fast" by utilizing injection molding, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, and additive manufacturing to produce custom parts for product designers and engineers worldwide.
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