American Prototype & Production Inc. Uses FabLight Laser

May 14, 2021
4 min read
metal laser cutter

3D FabLight is proud of our many customer success stories over the years. One such story is our relationship with American Prototype & Production.

For over 25 years, American Prototype & Production, a machine shop in San Carlos, CA, has been using best-in-class machine tools matched with the latest CAD-CAM software to offer their customers the highest quality machining service available. Their core capabilities include CNC milling, CNC turning, and low and high-volume part runs. In addition, they use the FabLight laser in-house for customers looking to process, mark, or engrave sheet materials.

Blaine Bolich, Owner of American Prototype & Production, has experienced the unique difference that the FabLight machine provides for his business. American Prototype & Production has been using the FabLight 4500 Tube & Sheet since February 2018 and continues to benefit from it as an additional source of revenue.

According to Blaine, the FabLight enables his business to take on new work, as well as increase their throughput with minimal capital investment. Although American Prototype & Production had a large format CO2 laser (4’ x 8’ bed) before purchasing a FabLight laser, they did not have true metal laser cutting capabilities. “The core features of this machine that are revolutionary are that its low cost, low maintenance, and accessible for everyone,” Blaine said. “3D FabLight took a technology that used to cost $500,000 to $600,000 and condensed it into something with a much smaller footprint at a much more affordable price.”

For a small shop like American Prototype & Production, every square foot of floor space is extremely valuable. When introducing the FabLight machine to their shop, they didn’t have to move equipment around or sacrifice an existing machine; the FabLight fit perfectly into a tight spot in the entrance of their shop.

American Prototype & Production set up a website where their customers can go to easily request a quote for laser-cut metal components. According to Blaine, the laser pays for itself in the first week of operation every month through website leads alone. In addition, they implemented a minimum order purchase of $500 to increase material and labor efficiency.

Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, Blaine attended tradeshows where he was surprised to learn that some people were initially turned off by the fact that you can plug the machine into a standard 110V outlet. “Don’t be afraid of the future,” Blaine said. “You could put one of these machines in your garage and start cutting sheet metal if you really wanted to. It’s extraordinary.”

For American Prototype & Production, the FabLight has increased throughput and maximized their return on investment. Before they incorporated the FabLight into their operations, American Prototype & Production was machining I/O panels milled from 0.125” aluminum in 25 minutes, excluding the time used to design and make a fixture. Now, with the FabLight, they can produce the same product for their customer in less than eight minutes, and no special fixturing is required.

Because the FabLight doesn’t require extensive training to use or constant monitoring, American Prototype & Production didn’t have to hire an additional employee to run the machine. Their office manager learned how to use the machine and is now the primary machine operator. She creates the jobs for the machine using FabCreator and loads stock into the pallet. She presses “Run” and walks away while the machine is cutting the parts. When the job is finished, she unloads the pallet and ships the parts out to the customer.

American Prototype & Production is proud to offer their customers the capabilities of the FabLight machine. “Customers love to shop at one place, especially if they have an existing relationship,” Blaine said. “In the past, we would send the sheet metal parts to another sheet metal shop. The FabLight has allowed us to do a lot of that work in-house for our customers.”

American Prototype & Production has used their FabLight 4500 Tube & Sheet for just over three years now and are looking at the possibility of adding another one to their shop. According to Blaine, they are looking to maintain their growth and the FabLight enables them to do so. “Cost, footprint, mobility, and ease of use are just a few of the differentiators that set 3D FabLight apart in the industry,” he said. “I see our relationship with 3D FabLight continuing to advance. Since we’ve had their machine, our customer base has grown, and we are excited to see what it helps us accomplish in the years ahead.”

To learn more about American Prototype & Production and their fiber laser cutting and engraving featuring the 3D FabLight 4500 Tube & Sheet, click here.

About 3D FabLight

3D FabLight was founded in 2015 with a mission to break down the barriers to advanced flexible manufacturing using lasers and software. Our team has decades' worth of experience designing laser cutters and machine tool software.

With 3D FabLight, you get the best of both worlds. Not only do you receive our remarkable laser cutting technology guaranteed to meet your cutting needs, but you also get access to our team of dedicated professionals. We provide every customer with top-notch service, answering questions and helping them to personalize their needs. In addition, our team is available for software support. To watch a webinar, click here.

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