To ensure American-made products continue to compete on a global scale, U.S. businesses across the board must make certain they are not only innovating their products, but are using cutting-edge processes to revolutionize the ways in which these products are designed and made.
Increased implementation of improved tools, advanced software, and production automation has allowed the manufacturing industry to yield a greater variety of products with improved efficiency. The use of technology to help one of our country’s oldest industries thrive is an exciting solution. As hardware undergoes a revival following the long software revolution, automation has had a significant impact across industries—manufacturing included.
At Proto Labs, we’ve used automation to enable a digital transformation and begun to define ourselves as a technology company that enables short-run manufacturing. Utilizing proprietary software that runs on a compute cluster at over 2 trillion floating point operations per second, each step along the way to a 3D-printed, CNC-machined, or injection molded part becomes streamlined.
At the start, this technology provides potential customers with manufacturability analysis for their part— among the feedback, the technology calls out potential thick or thin areas, where a missing draft should be added, and fill analysis. This feedback, delivered in under four hours, provides the designer with vital information that can save them time, money, and resources.
Moving into part production, the utilization of this software fast-tracks the traditionally slow and cumbersome aspects of manufacturing, making the process frictionless not only for the manufacturer, but more importantly for the customers they serve. The condensed process affords increased innovation, amplified productivity and efficiency, and accelerated speed-to-market.
Whether a long-established large company, a startup, or somewhere in between, speed is a critical factor to success. In this new era of rapid prototyping and production, product developers can progress through the cycle of designing, testing, and revising products much more rapidly and affordably. This enables them to bring their products to market in a timeframe dictated by the idea and product functionality, without being restricted by the logistical complexities of the production cycle.
Robert is currently vice president and general manager, Americas at Proto Labs, a leading online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and low- to mid-volume production. At Proto Labs, Robert has also held roles as chief technology officer and director of business development. Prior to joining Proto Labs, Robert held leadership roles at Honeywell and McKinsey & Company, and has been on the executive team of two early-stage software companies in the Twin Cities. Robert holds BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in engineering and computer science.
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