Proto Labs

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Proto Labs
Formerly called
The ProtoMold Company
Traded as NYSEPRLB
S&P 600 Component
Founded 1999
Founder Larry Lukis
Headquarters Maple Plain, MN, United States
Area served
USA, England, Japan, Spain, France, Germany, Italy
Key people
Larry Lukis
Vicki Holt (CEO)
Products Injection-molded parts for printers
Revenue $298 million (2016)
Number of employees
1000 (2014)[1]

Proto Labs is a company that provides rapid manufacturing of low-volume 3-D printed, CNC-machined and injection-molded custom parts for prototyping and short-run production.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Markets like medical devices, electronics, appliances, automotive and consumer products use these parts.[6][7][8] Proto Labs' headquarters and manufacturing facilities are located in Maple Plain, Minnesota.[2][4][9][10] The company also has manufacturing facilities in England and Japan.[2][4]


In 1999, Larry Lukis founded the Protomold Company, Inc., that specialized in the quick-turn manufacture of custom plastic injection molded parts.[3][6] Protomold was recognized for its small batch molded parts and rush orders.[1] He previously ran ColorSpan, an original equipment manufacturer that produces printers and desktop publishing systems.[3] He was the chief technology officer of Protomold.[3] Later, in 2001, Brad Cleveland joined Protomold as CEO and president.[2][3][10][11]

In 2005, Protomold opened up its first UK plant in Telford, England.[12] Two years later, Protomold introduced the Firstcut quick-turn CNC machining service.[13] In 2009, the company combined its Protomold and Firstcut services under its corporate name, Proto Labs Inc.,[4] and Proto Labs opened a location in Japan to serve Japanese design engineers.[4]

In 2009, Firstcut, a service from Proto Labs, made available CNC-machined prototype parts made of aluminum, as well as ABS, nylon, and PEEK.[14] In February 2012, Proto Labs completed its initial public offering of common stock.[15][16]

An aerial view of Proto Labs manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Minnesota.

In 2013, Proto Labs reached $150 million in revenue.[17] In 2014, Proto Labs acquired the North Carolina-based 3-D printing company, FineLine Prototyping Inc. In fall 2016, Proto Labs' 3D printing services moved to a new 77,000 sq. ft. facility in Cary, North Carolina. The company also opened a plant in Plymouth, Minnesota.[18][19][20][21]

In February 2014, Vicki Holt was named CEO. She was hired to help Proto Labs become a billion dollar manufacturing company. Holt is expanding Proto Labs into the medical equipment markets and the lighting industry.[1]


Proto Labs is the world's fastest digital manufacturing source for rapid prototypes and on-demand production parts. The technology-enabled company uses 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection molding technologies to produce parts within days. The result is an unprecedented speed-to-market value for designers and engineers and an on-demand resource throughout a product’s life cycle.

Product developers can upload a 3D CAD model online and receive an interactive quote with design feedback and pricing information within hours. The manufacturability analysis helps customers eliminate potential problems like sink or walls that are too thin or thick. Once a part design is ready and a quote approved, production of 3D-printed, machined or injection-molded parts begins.


Industrial 3D printing uses additive manufacturing technologies to create extremely accurate and repeatable prototypes, from small parts with complex geometries to large, precise patterns. 3D-printed parts are built by rapid stereolithography, selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering processes, and in a range a plastics and metals. Also, now offering PolyJet, which uses a jetting process where small droplets of liquid photopolymer are sprayed from multiple jets onto a build platform and cured layer by layer.

Proto Labs rapid injection molding facility located in Rosemount, MN.


CNC machining works well for smaller quantities of less than 200 parts. Milling and turning processes are used to machine engineering-grade plastic and metal parts for prototyping and production. Machined parts are well-suited for functional testing, jigs and fixtures, and small quantities of production components.


Injection molding is used for on-demand prototyping, bridge tooling, and low-volume production of up to 10,000+ parts. More than 100 thermoplastic and liquid silicone rubber materials are available. In 2016, the company enhanced its injection molding service with the introduction of overmolding and insert molding.

Cool Idea! Program[edit]

In 2011, Proto Labs launched the Cool Idea! Award program. It awards a total of up to $250,000 each year in services to entrepreneurs with innovative product ideas in the United States and Europe.[22][23][24]


In 2004, the Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal named Protomold Inc. to the top of its “Growth 50” list.[25]

In 2010 and 2013, Proto Labs was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.[26]

In June 2012, Larry Lukis and Brad Cleveland won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for their work with Proto Labs, Inc.[27][28]

In 2013 and 2014, Proto Labs was recognized by Forbes in the top 5 of America's Best Small Companies.[29]

In 2015, Proto Labs was recognized as one of the top-ranked rapid prototyping vendors in the United States by their customers.[30]

In 2016, Workplace Dynamics recognized Proto Labs as a top-ranked workplace in Minnesota [31]

In 2016, the Minnesota High Tech Association awarded Proto Labs with a Tekne award for its work in advanced manufacturing.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Slade, Hollie (15 October 2014). "How Proto Labs Is Building The Factory Of The Future". Forbes. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Proto Labs Ltd Does with the Queen's Award for the second time". Interempresas. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Fast forward prototyping arrives". Plastics Today. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Rapid Injection Molder's Automated Process Creates Strategic Advantages for Clients". Design-2-Part Magazine. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Proto Labs". PMW Magazine. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Changing Face of Injection Molding". Medical Design. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Fashion Meets Function with Proto Labs' Latest Cool Idea! Award Winner". Daily Finance. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "3D Technology Will Be "Printing" Money". Money Show. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Women in Business 2013—Jackie Schneider". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Large Manufacturer of the Year: GNP Company". Minnesota Business Magazine. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Affordable Injection Molding Transforms Tinkerers Into Tycoons". Wired. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Proto Labs: Weiter auf Wachstumskurs mit neuer Betriebsstätte". Plasticker. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Adrienne Burke (3 January 2014). "How Proto Labs makes manufacturing in the USA possible for more inventors". Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Proto Labs: First Cut mit Prototypenteilen aus Aluminium". Plasticker. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "United States Securities and Exchange Commission - Proto Labs Inc". Nasdaq. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "St. Anthony: Proto Labs learns a long-term lesson". Star Tribune. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Mike Scott (28 May 2014). "Minnesota firm upgrades LSR capabilities". Rubber News. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Sam Black (24 April 2014). "Proto Labs gets into 3-D printing with N.C. acquisition, opens Plymouth plant". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Kevin Mahoney (24 April 2014). "Proto Labs Enters 3-D Printing With $38M Deal". Twin Cities Business. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Ann R. Thryft (13 May 2014). "Proto Labs Buys 3D Printing Service Bureau". Design News. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Dee Depass (25 April 2014). "Proto Labs buys 3-D printing company in Raleigh, opens Plymouth factory". Star Tribune. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  22. ^ Jessica Leber (19 November 2013). "A Phone Charging Device For The Next Billion Turns Heat Into Power". Exist. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Adrienne Burke (8 February 2014). "Proto Labs Gives Entrepreneurs with Cool Ideas a Kickstart". Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Rakesh Sharma (18 February 2014). "An Award For Hardware". Forbes. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  25. ^ "The Business Journal names "Growth 50"". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Proto Labs: Auszeichnung mit dem Queen’s Award". Plasticker. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "EY announces winners for the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2012 Upper Midwest Award". EY. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Proto Labs replaces founder Lukis as chief technology officer". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  29. ^ Karsten Strauss (9 October 2013). "The Winners Circle: America's Best Small Companies". Forbes. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  30. ^ VendOp's Top Rapid Prototyping Vendors of 2015
  31. ^ "Top Workplaces in Minnesota". Star Tribune. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  32. ^ "Proto Labs, Sentera among 2016 Tekne Award winners". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]