Digital manufacturer Protolabs has started work on a £10.5m investment that will increase its 3D printing capability by 50% to meet the growing demand for this technology.
The company, which specialises in custom prototypes and low-volume production parts, is building a new 5000 square metre production facility in Putzbrunn in Germany that will give customers even greater access to the firm’s automated manufacturing processes and quality systems.
Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic impacting economies across Europe, construction of the new building has started, with the initial shell scheduled to be completed by the end of December this year and the fit-out and machinery due to be installed in several stages beginning in May 2021.
Up to 25 further machines and state-of-the-art equipment will be added to the existing technology, whilst a CNC machining centre - with a 5-axis milling machine - will be installed to support the finishing of 3D printed parts for high-end applications. Automated finishing, colouring and painting systems will also be part of the expansion, along with additional 3D printing technologies in the future.
This is the latest investment by Protolabs follows the £5m extension currently being finalised at its European Headquarters in Telford.
"We are the world’s fastest digital manufacturer, but a major goal for us is to produce 3D printed parts even faster. When a finished design enters our online ordering platform it goes through a short feasibility check by our expert design team and then on to be printed. The new facility will give us the capacity to speed this process up even more to real time,” explained Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe.
“We will be able to move all departments from the current building in Feldkirchen near Munich to Putzbrunn and, importantly, with the larger production area and 50% more capacity, we’ll be able to deliver even more projects in as little as one day.
“With optimised work processes and additional employees, the new location will support our activity in the UK, especially our ability to produce certified medical devices under ISO 13485.”
Operating from manufacturing facilities across three continents, Protolabs helps customers to accelerate product development, reduce costs and optimise supply chains with technology-enabled 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding.
Clients upload their 3D CAD drawings to www.protolabs.co.uk, where customised software reviews files and emails an interactive quote with pricing and design analysis
Photo: 3D Printing Expansion: (l-r) Michael Meier (Protolabs), Edwin Klostermeier (Mayor of Putzbrunn) and Daniel Cohn (Protolabs)