CNC Machining Service Flexible delivery of prototypes and finished parts boosts supply chain capacity

Editor: Alexander Stark

UK — In order to boost supply chain capacity in the UK and help customers manage costs, Protolabs launched a new CNC Flexible Lead Time option.

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Protolabs uses both 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling for rapid prototyping and low-volume production of end use plastic and metal components.
Protolabs uses both 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling for rapid prototyping and low-volume production of end use plastic and metal components.
(Source: Hodgkiss Photography/ Protolabs)

With their new CNC Flexible Lead Time option, Protolabs wants to give clients in the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical and prototyping markets the opportunity to choose a manufacturing solution for the shipping of parts from six to twelve days after an order when using its e-commerce platform.

This latest introduction is in addition to its standard delivery of just three days and as little as one day for expedited projects. However, not every order requires such a rapid response, so the new CNC Flexible Lead Time option allows customers using the company's e-commerce platform to upload their CAD files and see how changing their delivery date alters the price.

“It means we have given them even more control over production and greater flexibility at a time when the supply chain is stretched. They now have more freedom to achieve the balance between meeting their own budgets and client deadlines by working to turnaround times that are best for their project,” explains David Ewing, Product Manager for Protolabs’ CNC machining service.

The software platform, which forms the basis of the customer quoting and ordering experience, also provides a free design for manufacturability analysis to check the CAD before production. It highlights features that are impossible to machine, but also areas where a redesign or change could save the customer money.

Protolabs uses both 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling for rapid prototyping and low-volume production of end use plastic and metal components, whilst live tooling capability combines lathe and mill capabilities to produce parts with cylindrical features from metal rod stock.

Customers upload their CAD onto the company’s e-commerce platform where they can add threaded features, including key and coil inserts within their interactive quote. When the quote is returned, a 3D display will show which thread types are possible for each feature.

The Telford-based digital manufacturer stocks more than 30 engineering grade plastic and metal materials that are suitable for various applications and industries, including plastics like ABS, polycarbonate nylon and PEEK and metals such as aluminium, stainless steel, magnesium and copper.

It also provides services in 3D printing (for both plastic and metal parts) and injection moulding, featuring plastic injection moulding, liquid silicone rubber moulding, overmoulding and insert moulding.

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