Industry Directory - Proto Labs, Inc.

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Proto Labs, Inc.

Proto Labs, Inc.

Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB) is a digital manufacturing company, which has become a significant player in the 3D printing industry. Though it offers services for low-volume, short-run production and prototyping of computer numerical control (CNC) machined, sheet metal, and injection molded parts, it has steadily increased its use of 3D printing in rapid prototyping and quick-turn production for a number of years. Customers can upload 3D CAD models and receive quotes for their custom parts in real-time. In addition to its headquarters and manufacturing facilities on Pioneer Creek Dr. in Maple Plain, Minnesota, the company has production sites in England, Germany and Japan.

From Protomold to Proto Labs, Inc.

The firm began in 1999 as the Protomold Company, Inc., focusing on custom plastic injection molded production parts with fast turnaround times. By 2005, it has opened up its first facility in England before introducing CNC machining services two years after that, made possible through the acquisition of a firm called Firstcut. This paved the way for a name change that expanded beyond injection molding to include a more diverse array of services. This led to the combination of Protomold and Firstcut under the corporate name of Proto Labs, Inc.

Proto Labs, Inc. Goes Public as “PRLB”

In 2009, the company established a Japanese branch, while Firscut began offering aluminum parts in addition to ABS, nylon and PEEK. In 2011, it initiated the Cool Idea! Award program ,which provides up to $250,000 annually in services to entrepreneurs and product developers with novel product ideas in the United States and Europe.

This was followed in 2012 with Protolabs going public, listing on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “PRLB”. By 2013, it had earned $150 million in revenue and, in 2014, Vicki Holt was taken on as Chief Executive Officer with the goal of driving Protolabs to become a billion-dollar firm.

As a part of this vision for a fourth industrial revolution, the company would expand its manufacturing processes. In 2014, it purchased its first 3D printing company, FineLine Prototyping, which allowed the firm to begin offering additive manufacturing services. This led to the expansion of its 3D printing services in 2016, which included moving its additive manufacturing services to a 77,000 square foot facility in Cary, North Carolina, the opening of a new plant in Plymouth, Minnesota. In 2017, it added sheet metal fabrication through the purchase of a business called RAPID Manufacturing. Its acquisitions have continued to this day. As recently as January 2021, Protolabs acquired Dutch digital fabrication service provider and e-commerce startup 3D Hubs.

With the company having achieved billion-dollar status, Vicki Holt announced her retirement, to be replaced by Vice President and General Manager of Americas, Robert Bodor. This was followed by the resignation of Chief Financial Officer John Way. Though Proto Labs, Inc. has not provided a dividend history, as of November 2021, the company had a market cap of USD$1.49 billion, at which time it had an EPS (TTM) of 1.12. The beta around that time was 1.50, so Proto Labs’s price volatility had been higher than the market average. Financial results for the firm can be found on the investor relations page of the company website, located at News updates can be regularly found via Business Wire.

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