Two-Component Parts in 15 Days Or Less

Proto Labs has added a quick-turn overmolding service in response to customer requests for cost-effective prototyping or low-volume production of overmolded parts.

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Rapid manufacturing company Proto Labs has launched a quick-turnaround overmolding service that its says can produce custom multi-material prototypes and on-demand production parts from aluminum tooling in 15 days or less.

 

Becky Cater, global product manager, injection molding at Proto Labs, told Plastics Technology the goal is to widen the number of potential applications for two-component molded parts by eliminating traditional barriers of high initial investment and minimum production volume. “Historically there have been very few options for cost-effective prototyping or low-volume production of overmolded parts,” Cater said. “Proto Labs wanted to make the overmolding process more accessible to a broader range of industries and applications. Our cost-effective, quick-turn overmolding service provides engineers and designers with a low-risk way to experiment with and design-in overmolding on a wide range of projects.”

 

Cater said Proto Labs would apply a pick-n-place overmolding process using multiple presses for the service rather than two-shot molding in a single press. At this time, the company doesn’t have any two-shot machines, but Cater noted that as with all the services it offers, it will continually monitor market needs. “If we find a need to add two-shot presses, we will consider that,” Cater said, “but are not currently planning to do so.”

 

In terms of materials that can be molded together, Cater said there are a number of elastomeric overmolding and rigid substrate combinations available, depending on the degree of bonding required for a given application. Proto Labs also offers liquid silicone rubber overmolding, and it provides a sampling of specific material options on its website. Cater said the company also accepts customer supplied materials, potentially opening up a wide range of additional material combinations.

 

Proto Labs currently requires that both the substrate and the overmold parts be produced at Proto Labs, noting that at this time, it will not accept inserts or parts provided by customers for it to overmold.

 

“We responded to our customers’ requests and are now fulfilling an unmet market need,” Cater said. “Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

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