The Telford-based company has introduced detailed measurement and inspection reporting, in addition to its standard quality control processes, for the first time this month.

Surface treatment and assembly will follow later in the year as Protolabs invests further in its secondary services to meet increased customer demand for both cost-efficiency and customisation.

Stephen Dyson, Protolabs’ Special Operations Manager, said: “Our customers really value our rapid manufacturing services for low-volume parts and prototypes, but they now want the benefit of ‘on demand manufacturing’ for production parts, which have higher expectations for sampling, measurement and process documentation.

“The marked increase from customers across all industries wanting to take advantage of the speed and flexibility of On-Demand manufacturing, utilising 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding techniques, brings with it a desire to simplify the supply chain. We are offering secondary services to reduce the number of process steps that the customer has to manage, saving time and resources in the process.”

The turnaround times for each process varies and is dependent on factors such as part complexity and quantity.

As part of their standard process, Protolabs undertake X, Y, Z measurements at the start of the production run as well as at final inspection. The additional measurement and inspection services complement the standard process to meet specific customer requirements.

The marketplace for secondary services spans a number of sectors, but the company expects industries that use First Article Inspection (FAI), Initial Sample Inspection Report (ISIR) and Product Part Approval Process (PPAP), such as aerospace and automotive, will be key.

The procedures provide a framework for establishing confidence in component suppliers and their production processes, as well as providing the necessary control documentation.

As part of its secondary services launch, Protolabs will be conducting a webinar on 28th February.

The webinar is for engineers and designers looking to further understand the process variations that occur when designing for injection moulding and to learn how to prepare for these variations effectively.