Digital Manufacturing FAQs

Protolabs? Why should I choose your company to make my parts?

Our industrial 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and injection molding services provide parts made directly from the customer’s 3D CAD model, reducing the likelihood of errors. Proprietary software automates toolpath generation to decrease manufacturing times and reduce costs.

What companies do you work with?

Due to the proprietary and competitive nature of projects we work on, we do not disclose a listing of our customers. However, we do regularly receive permission to share customer success stories. Read our success stories here.

Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) required to do business with Protolabs?

An NDA is not necessary to do business with Protolabs. When uploading your CAD model to our site, we employ state-of-the-art encryption and anything you upload is protected by confidentiality obligations. For more information, contact your account representative.

What industries use Protolabs services?

We serve a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product, and electronics.

When should I use machining versus injection molding?

Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs, or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in as fast as 1 day.

Injection molding is better suited to support larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling, or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically 6 to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don’t justify expensive steel production tooling, we can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in 1 to 15 days.

How many machines do you have?

We currently have more than 1,000 mills, lathes, 3D printers, presses, press brakes, and other manufacturing equipment. With our long history of growth, this number is always changing.

Are my parts made in the United States?

We currently have 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are producing parts.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?

To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. You’ll get an interactive quote within hours with free design feedback. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests possible solutions.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?

You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested.

What types of files do you accept?

We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not accepted.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?

We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers who are familiar with our process.

Does Protolabs offer finishing options and secondary processes with its services?

Enhanced finishing options and secondary processes are available for 3D printingsheet metal, and injection molding processes. We do not offer secondary processes for CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide first article of inspection (FAI) service?

We offer FAIs on machined and molded parts.

Why should I choose your company to make my parts?

Our industrial 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and injection molding services provide parts made directly from the customer’s 3D CAD model, reducing the likelihood of errors. Proprietary software automates toolpath generation to decrease manufacturing times and reduce costs.

What companies do you work with?

Due to the proprietary and competitive nature of projects we work on, we do not disclose a listing of our customers. However, we do regularly receive permission to share customer success stories. Read our success stories here.

Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) required to do business with Protolabs?

An NDA is not necessary to do business with Protolabs. When uploading your CAD model to our site, we employ state-of-the-art encryption and anything you upload is protected by confidentiality obligations. For more information, contact your account representative.

What industries use Protolabs services?

We serve a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product, and electronics.

When should I use machining versus injection molding?

Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs, or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in as fast as 1 day.

Injection molding is better suited to support larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling, or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically 6 to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don’t justify expensive steel production tooling, we can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in 1 to 15 days.

How many machines do you have?

We currently have more than 1,000 mills, lathes, 3D printers, presses, press brakes, and other manufacturing equipment. With our long history of growth, this number is always changing.

Are my parts made in the United States?

We currently have 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are producing parts.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?

To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. You’ll get an interactive quote within hours with free design feedback. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests possible solutions.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?

You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested.

What types of files do you accept?

We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not accepted.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?

We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers who are familiar with our process.

Does Protolabs offer finishing options and secondary processes with its services?

Enhanced finishing options and secondary processes are available for 3D printingsheet metal, and injection molding processes. We do not offer secondary processes for CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide first article of inspection (FAI) service?

We offer FAIs on machined and molded parts.

What companies do you work with?

Due to the proprietary and competitive nature of projects we work on, we do not disclose a listing of our customers. However, we do regularly receive permission to share customer success stories. Read our success stories here.

Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) required to do business with Protolabs?

An NDA is not necessary to do business with Protolabs. When uploading your CAD model to our site, we employ state-of-the-art encryption and anything you upload is protected by confidentiality obligations. For more information, contact your account representative.

What industries use Protolabs services?

We serve a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product, and electronics.

When should I use machining versus injection molding?

Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs, or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in as fast as 1 day.

Injection molding is better suited to support larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling, or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically 6 to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don’t justify expensive steel production tooling, we can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in 1 to 15 days.

How many machines do you have?

We currently have more than 1,000 mills, lathes, 3D printers, presses, press brakes, and other manufacturing equipment. With our long history of growth, this number is always changing.

Are my parts made in the United States?

We currently have 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are producing parts.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?

To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. You’ll get an interactive quote within hours with free design feedback. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests possible solutions.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?

You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested.

What types of files do you accept?

We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not accepted.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?

We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers who are familiar with our process.

Does Protolabs offer finishing options and secondary processes with its services?

Enhanced finishing options and secondary processes are available for 3D printingsheet metal, and injection molding processes. We do not offer secondary processes for CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide first article of inspection (FAI) service?

We offer FAIs on machined and molded parts.

Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) required to do business with Protolabs?

An NDA is not necessary to do business with Protolabs. When uploading your CAD model to our site, we employ state-of-the-art encryption and anything you upload is protected by confidentiality obligations. For more information, contact your account representative.

What industries use Protolabs services?

We serve a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product, and electronics.

When should I use machining versus injection molding?

Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs, or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in as fast as 1 day.

Injection molding is better suited to support larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling, or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically 6 to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don’t justify expensive steel production tooling, we can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in 1 to 15 days.

How many machines do you have?

We currently have more than 1,000 mills, lathes, 3D printers, presses, press brakes, and other manufacturing equipment. With our long history of growth, this number is always changing.

Are my parts made in the United States?

We currently have 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are producing parts.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?

To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. You’ll get an interactive quote within hours with free design feedback. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests possible solutions.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?

You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested.

What types of files do you accept?

We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not accepted.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?

We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers who are familiar with our process.

Does Protolabs offer finishing options and secondary processes with its services?

Enhanced finishing options and secondary processes are available for 3D printingsheet metal, and injection molding processes. We do not offer secondary processes for CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide first article of inspection (FAI) service?

We offer FAIs on machined and molded parts.

What is the advantage of working with Protolabs? Why should I choose your company to make my parts?

Our industrial 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and injection molding services provide parts made directly from the customer’s 3D CAD model, reducing the likelihood of errors. Proprietary software automates toolpath generation to decrease manufacturing times and reduce costs.

What companies do you work with?

Due to the proprietary and competitive nature of projects we work on, we do not disclose a listing of our customers. However, we do regularly receive permission to share customer success stories. Read our success stories here.

Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) required to do business with Protolabs?

An NDA is not necessary to do business with Protolabs. When uploading your CAD model to our site, we employ state-of-the-art encryption and anything you upload is protected by confidentiality obligations. For more information, contact your account representative.

What industries use Protolabs services?

We serve a variety of industries including medical device, automotive, lighting, aerospace, technology, consumer product, and electronics.

When should I use machining versus injection molding?

Before making the investment to have injection-mold tooling made or high-volume machining processes, you likely will want to test a part that is as close to the production part as possible. CNC machining is the best option for this situation.

Additionally, engineers often need just one or maybe a few parts for test fixtures, assembly jigs, or assembly fixtures. Machining is the best option here as well, but traditional machine shops often charge a significant non-recurring engineering (NRE) charge for programming and fixturing. This NRE charge often makes getting very small quantities not affordable. The automated CNC machining process eliminates the upfront NRE costs and is able to offer quantities as low as one part at an affordable price and get parts in your hands in as fast as 1 day.

Injection molding is better suited to support larger amounts of samples for functional or market testing, bridge tooling, or low-volume production. If you need parts before a steel tool can be made (typically 6 to 10 weeks with other molders) or your volume requirements don’t justify expensive steel production tooling, we can supply production parts to meet your full requirements (up to 10,000+ parts) in 1 to 15 days.

How many machines do you have?

We currently have more than 1,000 mills, lathes, 3D printers, presses, press brakes, and other manufacturing equipment. With our long history of growth, this number is always changing.

Are my parts made in the United States?

We currently have 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe, and Japan, all of which are producing parts.

Why do you have manufacturing facilities in other countries?

We manufacture all parts for North America at our U.S. facilities. We also ship internationally to many other countries from our U.S. facilities. Our manufacturing facility in England supports all of the European countries, and our Japan facilities manufactures exclusively for Japan.

How do I get a quote?

To get a quote for all of our services, simply upload a 3D CAD model on our site. You’ll get an interactive quote within hours with free design feedback. If there are problem areas in the submitted design, our quoting engine provides detailed information on the potential manufacturing issues and suggests possible solutions.

Can I quote my part with all services at once?

You can get a quote for injection molding and machining, but a second quote for 3D printing will need to be requested.

What types of files do you accept?

We can accept native SolidWorks (.sldprt) or ProE (.prt) files as well as solid 3D CAD models from other CAD systems output in IGES (.igs), STEP (.stp), ACIS (.sat) or Parasolid (.x_t or .x_b) format. We can also accept .stl files. Two-dimensional (2D) drawings are not accepted.

I don’t have a 3D CAD model. Can you create one for me?

We do not offer any design services at this time. If you need assistance creating a 3D CAD model of your idea, contact us via email and we’ll get you contact information for designers who are familiar with our process.

Does Protolabs offer finishing options and secondary processes with its services?

Enhanced finishing options and secondary processes are available for 3D printingsheet metal, and injection molding processes. We do not offer secondary processes for CNC machining at this time.

Do you provide first article of inspection (FAI) service?

We offer FAIs on machined and molded parts.