Your masterclass in product design and development
Protolabs’ Insight video series
Our Insight video series will help you master digital manufacturing.
Every Friday we’ll post a new video – each one giving you a deeper Insight into how to design better parts. We’ll cover specific topics such as choosing the right 3D printing material, optimising your design for CNC machining, surface finishes for moulded parts, and much more besides.
So join us and don’t miss out.
Most Recent Insight Videos
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Optical LSR is starting to replace glass in many optical applications, including lens covers and light pipes. In addition to its performance-enhancing characteristics, optical LSR has several positive traits that simplify design and moulding. This video looks at the process of producing optical LSR parts, the benefits of the material and why exactly it is becoming a replacement for glass.
This can be one of the most important decisions you make on a project, and can easily make the difference between glowing success and not-so-glowing failure. You’ll need to be certain the option you pick fits your needs exactly, whether you want someone to handle your project as a one-off or plan to develop a long-term production relationship with them.
The amount of material options out there for CNC is pretty huge. So to narrow it down to the best material for your part you need to consider your part’s application, the service you will be using and whether it will be used for prototypes. This video will give you some considerations for narrowing down your material options when designing a machined part.
In this video we look at Inconel. Inconel is a superalloy, it can cope in extreme environments where other metals would struggle or even not cope at all. This video looks at its properties, benefits, limitations and applications.
In this video we look at Polypropylene. Polypropylene is a thermoplastic addition polymer made by combining propylene monomers. One of the most commonly produced plastics in the world and its use is increasing rapidly. A recent breakthrough means it can now be 3D printed using selective laser sintering. This video explores what this means in terms of design and how it could substantially reduce your product development time.
In this video we look at the various additive manufacturing technologies – outlining how they work. But we focus on how to approach 3D printing with production in mind.
In this video we look at multipart assemblies. We will give you tips on how to make the process less painful, discussing options such as symmetrical parts, self-mating parts, family tools and many more.
In this video we look at 3D Printed living hinges. We look at why it is worthwhile 3D printing living hinges and how best to make them work with some useful design considerations.
In this video we look at material properties and considerations when designing your part. Focusing on the four groups that most characteristics fall into; mechanical, physical, thermal and electrical.
In this video we look at prototyping with Polyjet, one of the few industrial 3D printing technologies that allows the use of multiple materials in a single build. We look at the process itself and the advantages and disadvantages when using it for prototyping your part.
In this video we look at complex machined parts, focusing on the five key things you need to keep in mind when creating a particularly complex part: hole placement, grooves, threading, milled text, and corners.
In this video we look at liquid silicone rubber, or LSR, focusing on the advantages of using LSR from a manufacturing process, and on the characteristics of the material itself. We also look at other materials, such as TPE and TPV, which are ideal for use as grips for tools and medical devices – or for providing an interesting aesthetic for your overmoulded part.
In this video we begin by explaining how direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS, works. We look at the considerable advantages of the technology, but also its limitations. We look at how you can tweak your part design in order to get around some of the potential problems, such as overhangs, curved shapes, and lettering – all presenting issues that can usually be addressed with some handy tricks.
In this video we look at smoothing out radii in injection moulded parts, and all the factors that need addressing to ensure manufacturability. We look at part geometry, wall thickness, how to apply radius at different areas of the part. And we also look at the injection moulding process itself – how the molten plastic moves through the cavity, how that should impact your CAD, and material considerations to ensure the best functioning part.
In this video we look at selective laser sintering, or ‘SLS’ for short. We look at how the technology works; what it delivers that other additive technologies cannot; the materials available and their characteristics within the process. But we also look at some of the limitations and what you can do to get around potential problems, to make sure the technology will meet your needs.
In this video we look at insert moulding and how it can add durability and strength to a part. We look at specific applications where your part may need extra strength; specific thermoplastics that can be used for insert moulding; the problems with plastics that require very high moulding temperatures. We also look at what your supplier may offer, in terms of inserts for the moulds, and what you should be asking of them to ensure you get the job done right.
In this video we look at materials and their compatibility for the bonding process in overmoulding. If the design itself won’t lock the two parts together, then a strong chemical bond is required. We also look at the functionality requirements of the part (an overmoulded part is often for grip, such as on a hand tool or surgical equipment); and the aesthetic requirements (colour considerations and materials that match a company’s brand).
In this video we look at what you need to consider when choosing the right manufacturing partner. We also look at the various options for rapid prototyping of medical devices: injection moulding, CNC machining and 3D printing – the advantages and disadvantages of each. Getting through the regulatory gates is a key goal in the medical product development process, and this video aims to help you get started down the right track.
In this video we begin by explaining the importance of ‘uniformity’, in terms of sinking, warping, and essentially non-functioning parts. We then look at what this means for designing a functional and cosmetically accurate part. Considerations include spans, corners, bosses, and wall height, so we look at what clever changes can be made to the design to overcome problems relating to wall thickness.
In this video we look at CNC machining costs and how to cut them. We look at what could potentially be compromised in the design, such as sharp edges and perfectly square corners – what can be altered in the design to avoid costly electrical discharge machining and slow material removal rates. We also look at walls and features within the part, and how to keep your design as simple as possible in order to keep those machining costs down.
This video looks at some of the additional services that suppliers should provide you with to help meet project requirements. This includes the types of quality inspection reports, post production operations, drilling and tapping holes and threads and part finishes.
CNC machining and DMLS are both incredibly useful processes. By utilising both, it can allow for greater flexibility in part design and can even save time and money. This video will help you understand the shared strengths and inherent differences between both processes, and how to best use them to your advantage.
As with any manufacturing process, injection moulding comes with its own set of design guidelines, and design engineers who understand these best practices will increase their chances of developing structurally sound and cosmetically appealing parts and products.
Measurement and inspection services are offered by most suppliers on injection moulded parts. These services range from part approval quality documentation to detailed dimensional reports. The speed in which you receive these depends on part complexity and production volume.
This week's video discusses what to ask when talking to your supplier about their report offerings - and things you can do to support the process with a well-designed part.
Automated design for manufacturability or DFM analysis, software that can quickly provide feedback on the manufacturability of your parts and can also highlight potential issues or areas of the design detail that could benefit from simple changes.
Copper is a vital material in engineering and it's role, particularly in industries such as automotive, is certainly growing. Until recently if you wanted a copper part the only option was to have it CNC machined, but now there is another option available. For more complex geometries, DMLS can be a more suitable method of creating parts.
This week's video looks at copper and aims to help you understand when it's best to turn to CNC machining or 3D printing.
At the most basic level there are two types of machined threads - internal and external. But when considering threads for your part there are a number of factors to ponder, such as:
- size of threads in UNC, UNF and metric
- maximum depths
- whether the thread can be added before or needs to be added after manufacturing
- inserts and how they affect hole diameter and depth etc.
This week's video looks at the key details, to help you learn what's possible when it comes to CNC threading.
Most 3D printed parts require normal or high resolution detail. But for very precise features - and we're talking detail at hundredths of millimetres - we move into the realm of micro resolution. Materials with this level of resolution come with both advantages and limitations, so this video will help you make the most of prototyping such intricate components.
When considering a surface finish for your part, there are several things to factor in. These include:
- the material you are using
- the end-use of your part
- whether or not your part is at the production or prototype stage.
This video looks at these factors in detail to help you determine the best choice in surface finish.
Draft is a vital part of injection moulding design. If ignored you run the risk of poor cosmetic finish, warping and the chance that your part may not eject smoothly from the mould. This video talks about draft and how you can use it in your part design for a more mouldable part.
Anodising produces aluminuim oxide on the surface of the metal. It is the 2nd hardest substance known to man - only diamond is harder - which is why anodising can protect your part against abrasion and corrosion. This video talks about anodising and why you may want to use the service for your metal parts.
Everyone wants to save money on manufactured parts. This video will list ways in which injection moulding costs can be reduced, whether it be cutting unnecessary features or incorporating undercuts.
Multi Jet Fusion is a relatively new technology that will open up new opportunities for you.
Making it possible to produce functional nylon prototypes and end-use parts in as fast as 1 day. This video looks at the Multi Jet Fusion process and what it can offer you.
CNC Machining is a great way to make parts and prototypes quickly and cost-effectively. As with any service there are considerations to be aware of when designing a part. This video will support you in designing your best part with CNC in mind.
Speed to market is key in most businesses. When prototyping a new product, you want to ensure you make it to market before your competitor. This video looks at the concept of bridge tooling and how it can support you in your transition from prototyping to production.