Proto Labs, Inc. operates as an online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. The company provides ‘Real Parts, Really Fast’ to product developers worldwide. It utilizes computer numerical control (CNC) machining and injection molding to manufacture custom parts for its customers. Its customers conduct all of their business with the company through the Internet. The company targets its services to various product developers who use three-dimensional computer-aided design (3D CAD) software to design products across a range of end-markets. It has established its operations in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Services The company’s Firstcut and Protomold services offer various product developers the ability to outsource their low-volume, quick-turn custom parts manufacturing. Firstcut The company’s Firstcut service uses commercially-available CNC machines to cut plastic or metal blocks into one or more custom parts based on the 3D CAD model uploaded by the product developer. The Firstcut service is suited to produce small quantities, in the range of 1 to 10 parts. Protomold The company’s Protomold service uses its 3D CAD-to-CNC machining technology for the automated design and manufacture of aluminum injection molds, which are then used to produce custom injection-molded parts on commercially-available equipment. Its Protomold service is used for both prototype and short-run production. Prototype quantities range from 25 to 100 parts. Because the company retains possession of the molds, customers who need short-run production often come back to Protomold for additional quantities ranging approximately 10,000 parts. They do so either to support pilot production while their tooling for high-volume production is being prepared or because their product would be released in a limited quantity. The process for both Firstcut and Protomold begins when the product developer uploads one or more 3D CAD models representing the desired part geometry. The company’s proprietary software uses complex algorithms to analyze the 3D CAD geometry, analyze its manufacturability and support the creation of an interactive, Web-based quotation containing pricing and manufacturability information. For Firstcut, the tool paths are then reviewed and routed to the company’s high-speed CNC machining centers for execution. In the case of Protomold, its proprietary software supports the creation of the mold design and the tool paths required to manufacture the mold components, which are then routed to its CNC machining centers for execution. Once the mold is assembled, it is placed in one of its injection molding presses to create the required parts. For both its Firstcut and Protomold services, the company ships parts in as little as one business day from design submission. The company ships its parts through small parcel common carriers on standard terms and conditions. Growth Strategy The principal elements of the company’s growth strategy are to increase penetration of existing customer companies; gain new customer companies in existing geographic markets; expand the range of parts that the company offers; introduce new manufacturing processes; expand into new geographic markets; and capitalize on increasing customer expectations for 24/7 access to comprehensive, user-friendly e- commerce capabilities. Intellectual Property The company’s patents have expiration dates ranging from 2022 to 2031. It also owned approximately 11 registered United States trademarks or service marks as of December 31, 2013, with corresponding registered protection in Europe and Japan for the majority important of these marks, such as PROTO LABS, PROTOMOLD, FIRSTCUT, PROTOQUOTE, FIRSTQUOTE, and PROTOFLOW and corresponding registered protection in Australia, Canada, and Mexico for PROTOMOLD. History Proto Labs, Inc. was founded in 1999. The company was incorporated in Minnesota in 1999.
proto labs inc (PRLB:New York)
5540 Pioneer Creek Drive
Maple Plain, MN 55359
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