ORLANDO, Fla.—Proto Labs Inc. has continued its trajectory of positive growth, continuing work on a building it purchased in Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Based in Maple Plain, Minn., Proto Labs is a digital manufacturer offering 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection molding services. It is a leader in digital manufacturing of rapid prototypes and low-volume production parts.
The company plans to expand its CNC business in the Brooklyn Park facility. That site should be up and operational by the end of 2018.
As part of the expansion, Proto Labs is erecting a 50,000-sq.-ft. addition to the 152,000-sq.-ft. Brooklyn Park location.
Charlie Johnson, technical operations manager for Proto Labs, said the expansion is going well.
"It currently is in the planning of schematics to determine how the plant will be laid out," he said.
The company has 210 CNC machines that will be moved to the Plymouth, Minn., facility later this year, a trip of about 10 miles.
"This expansion will allow us to grow and bring in machinery at the rate that we need to," Johnson said. "We are producing 50,000 to 60,000 parts a month, so we want to make sure the move is seamless and doesn't impact our workflow."
Johnson also said the investment is "significant," but he noted that the company does not release financial details of such projects.
Driving the expansion is the company's growth in CNC, which Johnson said is growing at a faster rate than 3D printing for the company.
"We are close to capacity in Plymouth" Johnson added.
In addition to CNC and 3D printing, the company also does injection molded parts and products. The company produces custom prototypes and end-use production parts within 15 days.
The company also passed a milestone earlier this year, producing its 100,000th mold.
Johnson also noted that 3D printing has enabled Proto Labs to be a full-service company for its customers.
"We listen to our customers, and that is a key to our business," he said. "They demanded 3D printing."
The company also continues to grow organically and through acquisition.
A key focus for Proto Labs in the coming year is the integration of Rapid Manufacturing Group, the New Hampshire-based custom parts supplier it purchased Dec. 1. A part of that integration, according to Johnson, was a move to rebrand the company as Rapid, a Proto Labs company. Over time, it will transition to operate solely under the Proto Labs brand.
While Johnson wouldn't rule out future acquisitions, he noted that Proto Labs likely will consider bolt-on offerings that complement the company's core competencies.
"We want to create more of a project management tool for our customers," he said.
Such services include overmolding and PolyJet printing, an industrial 3D printing process that builds multimaterial prototypes with flexible features and complex parts with intricate geometries as quickly as one day.
"Two years ago, we put it into our offering as an injection molding service," Johnson said. "Now, we can PolyJet 3D print a one-shot part."
The parts can be injection molded for a better finish, but the print option is in place for customers.