Protolabs Expands European Presence with Bigger German 3D Printing Operations

Digital manufacturing bureau Protolabs is investing USD$12.87m (£10.5m) into a brand new German manufacturing facility. The funds will develop the corporate’s 3D printing capability in Germany by 50 p.c, complementing its present additive manufacturing (AM), CNC machining, sheet steel and injection molding capabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down massive swaths manufacturing and transport globally, in flip highlighting the flexibility of on-demand manufacturing to supply elements domestically. Maybe spurred by this flip of occasions, the U.S.-based service bureau is opening a brand new 5,000 square-meter manufacturing facility in Putzbrunn, Germany. Building begins on the location as common public restrictions and distancing measures are eased within the metropolis, with the preliminary shell scheduled for completion by the tip of December and equipment to be put in starting in Could 2021.

Protolabs Expands European Presence with Bigger German 3D Printing Operations

Groundbreaking ceremony for Protolabs’ new German 3D printing facility: (l-r) Michael Meier (Protolabs), Edwin Klostermeier (Mayor of Putzbrunn) and Daniel Cohn (Protolabs). Picture courtesy of Protolabs.

This gear will embrace as much as 25 extra 3D printers, together with a 5-axis mill for ending 3D-printed elements, in addition to techniques for ending, coloring and portray. By rising the 3D printing capability of its German location by 50 p.c, the corporate will be capable to increase its European 3D printing companies. In keeping with Protolabs, the corporate can at the moment produce over 50 3D printed elements in a single to seven days, over 200 CNC elements in a single to a few days, and over 10,000 injection molded elements in a single to fifteen days.

Protolabs Expands European Presence with Bigger German 3D Printing Operations

Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing at Protolabs. (Picture courtesy of Protolabs.)

The undertaking comes on the heels of a USD$6.13m (£5m) extension being finalized at Protolabs’ European Headquarters in Telford within the U.Okay. The Telford location represented the Minnesota firm’s entry into the European continent when it was established in 2005. This was adopted, in 2009, by the opening of a location in Japan. Along with these and a number of other places of work within the U.S., Protolabs now has positions in Sweden, Italy and France.

This newest web site in Putzbrunn, exterior of Munich, will home all of its present departments from its present Feldkirchen workplace. The manufacturing facility will help the corporate’s U.Okay. exercise and can embrace the flexibility to supply medical gadgets licensed underneath ISO 13485.

The steel AM service bureau phase is predicted to achieve $9.four billion in revenues by 2025, in line with the latest “The Marketplace for Metallic Additive Manufacturing Companies: 2020-2029” report from SmarTech Evaluation. The corporate’s latest “Polymer Additive Manufacturing Markets and Functions 2020-2029” report has additive polymer elements from service bureaus reaching $7.eight billion by the identical 12 months.

SmarTech believes steel 3D printing service bureaus particularly can clear up the short-term disruptions related to the pandemic after which assist in manufacturing re-shoring to forestall future disruptions. To mirror the modifications within the steel AM service bureau phase from the pandemic, the corporate can be offering up to date forecasting in June 2020.

Protolabs Expands European Presence with Bigger German 3D Printing Operations

A steel powder mattress fusion room at Protolabs. Picture courtesy of Protolabs.

Protolabs can undoubtedly see the course that the market is headed. In 2016, the corporate started integrating a number of steel powder mattress fusion techniques from Idea Laser (now GE Additive) into a brand new 77,000 sq. ft. facility. By 2018, it was one of many first companions within the GE Manufacturing Companion Community and extra lately put in over 25 GE Additive Idea Laser Mlab and M2 machines in one in all its manufacturing amenities. As for polymers, Protolabs has additionally been an early adopter of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion know-how, which is turning into repeatedly essential for AM service bureaus.

The corporate just isn’t alone within the phase, nonetheless, even when matched in opposition to different digital manufacturing suppliers and repair networks that additionally don’t focus solely on AM. Whereas it might nonetheless be bigger than startups like 3D Hubs and Xometry, it contends with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and 3D Techniques on Demand, who additionally present a mess of producing choices. This additionally doesn’t embrace the pureplay service bureaus or these owned by a lot larger conglomerates. Sculpteo, as an example, is now owned by BASF, the most important chemical firm on the planet and Siemens owns selective laser melting consultants Materials Options.

Protolabs, then, is in an more and more aggressive trade and, with the advantages of distributed manufacturing turning into increasingly more evident, we are able to safely say that that trade is just going to extend in its competitiveness.



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