Protolabs has launched a big block rapid CNC machining service to turn around aluminium parts in 24 hours as the manufacturing sector looks to reshoring to get supply chains moving.

The new service will also support manufacturers gearing up to meet rising demand as Covid-19 recovery begins.

Daniel Evans, Manufacturing Engineer at Protolabs said demand for rapid CNC machining capability for aluminium 6082 was rising with companies looking to develop their own products and needing prototypes to prove the parts quickly.

“Typically, you would use this service for prototyping, or perhaps low volume parts. With speed to market more important than ever, we can help give our customers a real competitive edge. We’re finding they are coming to us because we can reliably machine and ship their parts in a wide range of metals and plastics far more quickly than other suppliers.


“This new big block CNC machining capability for aluminium 6082 makes this rapid prototyping and manufacturing service available for even more of their projects, especially important for companies which are looking to reshore.”

With a reliable shipping time as fast as 1 day from the initial CAD upload, the company can now mill from blocks of up to 559mm x 356mm x 95mm, available on 3 axis CNC machines. In common with its other milling services, the company can maintain a machining tolerance of +/- 0.1mm to produce parts as thin as 0.5mm in regions if the nominal part thickness is above 1mm.

Evans continued: “We have streamlined our manufacturing and prototyping service to such an extent that we can turn around parts from initial design to shipping in less time than most third parties would take to get a quote back.

One of the reasons is that we have automated the initial design analysis and quoting system. While we do have application engineers who will get involved with the customer to advise them if needed, this automated process speeds up delivery considerably.”

CNC milling is also available from the company in more than 30 engineering grade plastic and metal materials in smaller block sizes using both 3 axis and 5 axis indexed milling. The company can manufacture and ship anything from a single part to more than 200 parts in just 1 to 3 working days.

The service starts with a customer uploading their CAD design into the company’s automated quoting system where proprietary software analyses the design for manufacturability. This produces a quote and highlights any areas that may need redesigning within hours. After approval, the finished CAD can then proceed to manufacturing.

In addition to CNC machining, the company manufactures parts using the latest industrial 3D printing technology and rapid injection moulding and can also quote fast shipping times for these services.