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pe1You can tell that a market is ripe for explosive growth when it seems like every day there are two to three announcements of new companies getting funded or older companies investing new capital for an expansion. That’s just what’s been occurring in the 3D printing space, and today it’s Proto Labs’ turn to shine

Proto Labs, headquartered in Maple Plain, MN and founded in 1999 with a mission statement, “to radically reduce the time it takes to get prototype injection-molded plastic parts,” has been gradually expanding into the 3D printing space after going public via IPO in 2012. Now the company plans to step things up a notch within the space, making a major announcement that should equate to 170 new additive manufacturing jobs in the next five years within Wake County, North Carolina.

The Capabilities of Proto Labs' Laser Sintering 3D printers, which they took on with the acquisition of FineLine Last years

The Capabilities of Proto Labs’ Laser Sintering 3D printers, which they took on with the acquisition of FineLine last year

Representatives from Proto Labs, including VP of Additive Manufacturing Ron Connelly, were on hand with Governor Pat McCrory, NC Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III, and the Economic Development Partnership of NC to announce an investment by Proto Labs of $25 million for the expansion of their Cary, NC facility and subsequent hiring for operations within that facility. Once the new positions are created the new employees will be paid a total of $7.5 million annually, or approximately $44,000 apiece on average.pr2

“Proto Labs is one of those 21st century companies that is helping North Carolina stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” said Governor McCrory. “By more than doubling its workforce, the company is demonstrating that nothing compares to North Carolina when it comes to being a great place for innovative ideas.”

A small portion of the funding for this facility was made possible thanks in part to the One North Carolina Fund, which will be providing up to $150,000 to Proto Labs as part of an initiative to bring business to the state and create new jobs. Certainly this has played a role in persuading Proto Labs to expand their presence within the county, where they already employ 106 individuals.

“Since the launch of 3D printing at Proto Labs, we’ve increased our capabilities here in the U.S. and we’ve also introduced our additive manufacturing services in Europe,” stated Rob Connelly, Proto Labs’ VP of Additive Manufacturing. “Our state-of-the-art facility in North Carolina will be a critical driver in advancing 3D printing in the U.S. and globally for many years to come.”

Clearly the company understands the potential of 3D printing within the future of both small and large scale manufacturing. This announcement should lay the groundwork for their continued expansion in this direction on their way to becoming an additive manufacturing powerhouse.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this announcement. Discuss in the Proto Labs forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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