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Protolabs speeds forward with £5m expansion and a 10% + increase in workforce

The world’s fastest digital manufacturer of custom prototypes and low-volume production parts has released investment on a £5million expansion plan at its European Headquarters in Telford.

Protolabs, which works with thousands of product designers and engineers across Europe every year, is building a bespoke 50,000 sq. ft. extension to its Halesfield facility. It will house at least 50 additional CNC machines and a further 20 additional injection moulding presses.

This investment will help the company meet growing demand from clients across the automotive, aerospace, medical, electronics and heavy industry sectors for ‘speed to market’. Over the course of the next 2 years, it will also create 60 new high-skilled jobs in Shropshire.

Construction work has already begun with the foundations now in place, with the project set to be completed and the new space operational by early 2020.

Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe, commented: “The focus now, more than ever, is on speed and making sure new products and components are either first to market or ready when the end customer needs them.

“We are ideally set-up to meet this requirement, with a combination of our design and analysis team, bespoke production software and, once the expansion is complete, around 300 CNC milling, CNC turning and plastic injection moulding sampling and production machines at our disposal.

“Then we have our state-of-the-art 3D printing facility in Germany – all of this gives us the capacity to turn jobs around in as fast as 1 day.”

He continued: “Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we are confident that our recent growth will continue and the expansion of our factory gives us an additional 16% capacity and, importantly, the level of technology we need to help us reach our five-year target.

“At the moment, we employ over 440 people in Telford and we expect to reach more than 500 employees between now and the end of 2021. We are actively seeking people with the right skills that fit the Protolabs culture.”

Operating from manufacturing facilities across three continents, Protolabs works with customers to accelerate product development, reduce costs and optimise supply chains with technology-enabled 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding.

Clients upload their 3D Cad drawings to www.protolabs.co.uk, where customised software reviews models and emails an interactive quote with real time pricing and design analysis from a 20-strong team in the UK.

The company, which recently won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for the third time, typically produces 1 to 50+ 3D printed parts in 1 to 7 days, 1 to 200+ CNC machined parts in 1 to 3 days and 25 to 10,000+ injection moulded parts in 1 to 15 days.

Lee Ball, General Manager at Protolabs in Telford, concluded: “The expansion will give us the platform we need to deliver our ‘on-demand’ manufacturing offer to more customers, as well as providing improved welfare rooms for our employees as part of creating an even better working environment.

“It is the latest development in what has been a very busy 2019, with Secondary Services added to make sure we are keeping up with what the market requirements. These include detailed measurement and inspection reporting and anodising for CNC machined parts.

“We’ve also added new materials, including Inconel 718, Maraging Steel 1.2709 and copper to our growing list of metals for 3D printing. It’s all about giving our customers what they want and making sure we can meet their ‘need for speed’.”