While everyone is talking about the 3-D printing industrial revolution, one company is optimizing their offerings by making mass-production injection molding technology easily accessible for small businesses.

Protomold_SmallWhile everyone is talking about the 3-D printing industrial revolution, Protomold is helping tinkerers become tycoons by making mass-production injection molding technology accessible for easily customized short-run batches — and their recent expansion of materials lets designers produce almost anything they need.

3-D printing something like a cellphone case can take hours — unacceptable when makers need mass quantities. In order to cost-effectively produce products in big batches, traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding are still the best option. Unfortunately, companies that specialize in these processes want to work on huge-volume projects, leaving the little guy, or even a moderately successful Kickstarter project, with few options.

Protomold has stepped in to provide servicing to those makers who need small orders by being able to produce 50-5,000 injection-molded parts in one business day with prices starting at $1,495 for a production tool, and each produced part costing a couple dollars or less. The experience isn’t much different than ordering business cards online. A designer uploads their CAD file, chooses from a few preset options, and shelf-worthy injection-molded parts arrive on their doorstep.

The company has been successful, operating since May 1999, while continuing to grow their service. They’ve just added new materials to their list, including injection molded steel, stainless steel, magnesium, copper. Their newest is the option to mold parts in high temperature, medical grade resins, giving garage entrepreneurs the ability to produce parts for medical devices and high performance applications. Protomold is focused on helping turn big ideas into big companies.

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Source: Joseph Flaherty | Wired | January 30, 2013
Image: Protolabs | Wired