Proto Labs Introduces New Rapid Insert Molding Technology, Releases 2016 Financial Results

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protolabsIf you’ve been following our coverage of SOLIDWORKS World 2017, which wrapped up yesterday, you already know that there was a lot of 3D printing-related activity at the show. We spoke with multiple major companies in the 3D industry – printing, scanning, software – and we’re going to continue to share what we’ve learned with you over the next several days even though the show itself has closed.

On Tuesday, we talked with Rob Bodor, Vice President and General Manager, Americas, of Proto Labs, a company that has really come into its own over the past couple of years in terms of 3D printing. A rapid prototyping and low-volume production facility, Proto Labs began significantly expanding its 3D printing capabilities in 2015, and it’s paid off, though the company has no plans to abandon its other manufacturing processes, such as CNC machining and injection molding. Proto Labs has embraced digital manufacturing, Bodor told us, and has spent the last three or four years expanding its capabilities and focus.

bodor

Rob Bodor

He went on to enumerate the many new things the company has introduced over the last few months, such as a broader selection of metal materials for DMLS printing and the beta launch of polyjet 3D printing capabilities. Proto Labs is beginning to focus on elastomeric and soft materials for prototyping, and just introduced a new rapid insert molding process to expand its injection molding capabilities. The new process, which involves overmolding a thermoplastic material around a preformed component, or insert, is capable of producing 25 to more than 10,000 parts in 15 days or less. The inserts, which are usually metal, reinforce the properties of the thermoplastic for a strong, multimaterial finished part.

Proto Labs already counts a wide variety of industries among its customers, but the new insert molding capabilities will expand its appeal even further. Insert molding is used to produce electronic components, medical equipment, housing, knobs, dials, and a lot more in the medical, automotive and consumer product industries.

Add that to the expansion of Proto Labs’ 3D printing and CNC capabilities (they recently introduced titanium and five-axis milling, Bodor told us), and things are looking good for the company, which brought in nearly $300 million in revenue last year and has experienced double-digit growth for several years in a row.

Proto Labs officially released its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2016 today. Overall, the results were positive: revenue for 2016 increased 12.6 percent from 2015’s $264.1 million to $298.1 million, and 3D printing was a particular area of success. 3D printing revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 totaled $9.8 million, an increase of eight percent over the fourth quarter of 2015. The fourth quarter 2015 results were affected by revenue from unprofitable 3D printing contracts at Alphaform, which Proto Labs acquired that quarter. Excluding those unprofitable contracts, 3D printing revenue actually increased 16.6 percent.

Other fourth quarter highlights include:

  • $72.4 million in revenue
  • 14,046 unique product developers and engineered served, 13.1 percent more than fourth quarter 2015
  • Net income $9.4 million
  • $18.8 million in cash generated from operations
  • Gross margin was 55.7 percent of revenue
  • GAAP operating margin was 20.5 percent of revenue

“Our fourth quarter financial results continued to reflect the challenges that we faced throughout 2016 with general economic conditions affecting the R&D spending in certain industries, a trend that was felt with greater impact as we closed out the year,” said Vicki Holt, President and CEO. “3D printing revenue growth remained healthy and we look for continued strong growth in this segment.”

Full year highlights include:

  • Net income $42.7 million
  • $75 million in cash generated from operations

insert-molding“From an operational standpoint, we achieved several important milestones during 2016 that have strengthened our competitive position and enhanced our ability to generate improved top and bottom line growth across all our businesses going forward,” said Holt. “They include strengthening the management team, integrating our acquisition in Germany to enhance our 3D printing operations in Europe, the successful launch of overmolding and the expansion of our Liquid Silicone Rubber and lathe offerings, and the expansion to new manufacturing facilities in North Carolina and Japan. During 2017, we will be building on these initiatives to drive additional revenue growth.”

The Board of Directors has also authorized the repurchase of up to $50 million of Proto Labs’ common stock from time to time on the open market or in privately negotiated transactions, until December 31, 2021. The company held a conference call this morning to discuss the financial results; a replay will be available for 14 days in the Investor Relations section of Proto Labs’ website. Discuss in the Proto Labs forum at 3DPB.com.

[All photos taken by Sarah Goehrke onsite at SOLIDWORKS World for 3DPrint.com]

 

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