Proto Labs Inc. acquired a new facility to expand its 3D printing service into a larger, more efficient additive manufacturing space. The 77,000-square-foot facility will allow the digital manufacturing company to house all of its stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology under one roof. The new plant is scheduled to become fully operational in the first half of 2016. It will remain in the North Carolina area where Proto Labs’ current facilities are located. Anchoring the expansion will be SLS and DMLS equipment, which produce durable nylon parts and functional metal parts respectively.

In other news, Proto Labs introduced magnesium injection molding into its current rapid manufacturing services. This advanced injection molding process enables product designers and engineers to prototype using the same materials and processes used for the final part production. The process, also known as thixomolding, is viewed as an alternative to machining and die-casting processes. It involves heating chipped magnesium feedstock in the barrel of a press, where it is transformed into a gel-like state before high-speed injection into a steel mold to create the part.