Through the use of complex software code and automated manufacturing equipment, interactive online quotes with manufacturability analysis are now made possible within hours by best in class contract manufacturers, like Proto Labs. Their sophisticated online quoting program will report and illustrate design issues that can impact quality, cost and time to market.
The quoting software used by Proto Labs contains design and manufacturing rules that were extracted from human experts and then embodied in the code used to analyse the geometry of parts that will eventually be 3D printed, CNC machined or injection moulded.
With injection moulding, for example, the software determines optimal part orientation in the mould and placement of the parting line, so the A and B sides of the mould can be established. From there, potential issues — like thick sections or absence of draft — are identified, and the part can even be digitally tested against a virtual representation of the model to predict material flow in the mould.
In traditional manufacturing, an experienced moulder or machinist may be able to substitute experience for analysis by simply looking at a part, but that’s certainly not scalable, timely nor repeatable when immediate feedback on the design is needed. In contrast, Proto Labs’ DFM technology means that days, even weeks can be saved during the design phase which can accumulate to a month or more over the entire project.
Proto Labs’ DFM analysis technology is available on their website and is completely free of charge to use. Simply upload one or multiple CAD models and feedback will be returned within hours.