Stronger parts with plated 3D-printed plastic parts

Proto Labs, the leading provider of technology-enabled, rapid manufacturing solutions, announces the extension of its in-house 3D-printing capabilities with the inclusion of specialist plating services for plastic parts built using Stereolithography (SL) or Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS).

By offering both SL and SLS with a secondary ‘plating’ option, Proto Labs is responding to customer demand for parts with the finished aesthetic and inherent strength intended for the finished product.These augmented characteristics are achieved by ‘plating’ parts with materials including copper, nickel and chromium. Plated SL or SLS technology parts support prototyping requirements across a range of applications from all industries including: automotive, bathroom fittings and equipment for electrical engineering use.

Daniel Cohn, general manager of Proto Labs, Germany, said: “We are continually evolving our capabilities to ensure we meet the demands of our customers.We have become increasingly aware of the significant enhancements plating makes to the capabilities of the resultant part, hence our move to offer these services in-house.Now, with plating technology and operational expertise in-house, we can manufacture plated parts with increased capabilities that will support product testing and project progression even further.”

Application examples include:

  • Plating components that are thin & lightweight with a very high level of detail; plating offers an alternative finish for a surface or shape that cannot be milled (or milling is too costly to be viable).
  • Coating of finished components to provide shielding against electric or magnetic field
  • Finishing of surfaces with chrome for producing a prototype suitable for customer validation and presentation