Proto Labs Poised for Growth


Injection molding firm Proto Labs Inc. opened a $19 million manufacturing plant in Plymouth while also announcing that it acquired a 3-D printing firm that will add $10 million to its annual sales.

The $37 million acquisition of Raleigh, N.C.-based FineLine Prototyping Inc. gives Proto Labs 85 workers and its first presence in 3-D printing. 3-D printing is a manufacturing process that uses computers, software and automated machines that repeatedly deposit tiny layers of plastic until a 3-D product is formed.

FineLine makes goods for customers in medical, aerospace, computer, consumer and industrial products industries, and the company serves the same industries as Proto Labs. But Proto Labs is new to 3-D printing and is best known for plastic injection molding and highly technical metal and plastic milling jobs.

During an interview, CEO Vicki Holt said FineLine will continue to be based in Raleigh. FineLine President Rob Connelly said in a statement “It is a great cultural fit for FineLine.”

The addition of FineLine lands in what has become a big month for Proto Labs, which has $163 million in annual sales. The company just opened its fifth Minnesota manufacturing plant, gaining its first location in Plymouth.

Proto Labs originally planned to spend $15 million to buy, renovate and equip an abandoned foundry on Plymouth’s Niagara Lane. But manufacturing Vice President Mike Kenison said that the company will spend $19 million after all the construction, materials-recycling, power and equipment costs are tallied for the Plymouth Industrial Building.

The 1971 building has become a great new use for the community, said Holt while touring the cavernous space.

“What I love about this project is we took a building that had been empty for seven years. … We are bringing a lot of jobs to this area,” she said.

Proto Labs also expanded into steel and rubber injection molding, after adding $3 million worth of automated equipment at its Maple Plain headquarters.