LONDON (Reuters) - British food additive manufacturer Protolabs will give new performance guarantees for food molds which may be temporarily used in smartphones and other gadgets, the company said on Thursday.
FILE PHOTO: A shopper passes a fridgeette where Protolabs Enterprise molds are applied at the Westfield shopping centre in west London February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/File Photo
Protolabs, which draws the majority of its revenue from molds of food for consumers and other industrial uses, said performance guarantees will take effect in April to help mobile phone and computer makers protect their products from imperfections.
“Protolabs is committed to giving maximum support to help the consumers and the end product manufacturers ... if something is going to occur in their use of Protolabs molds, they have a window of time to recover and we do that,” Chief Executive Giancarlo Capaccio told Reuters.
Protolabs has been trying to expand in the expanding smartphone and industrial instrument mould sector which market research firm UBM Matrix predicts will hit $3.8 billion by 2023 as demand for more sophisticated and lighter devices grows.
The molds can help make the shape of a smartphone from a sample of raw materials such as aluminum or plastic. Other molds Protolabs makes include ceramics and acrylics.
Molding materials improve with technology and can be no more than 10 percent different from real-life materials, according to the company, increasing the desirability of molds.
But critics say that imperfections are inevitable as only a small fraction of the goods molds are made for are used and that imperfections may help improve the quality of goods.
Capaccio said Protolabs performs DNA testing for fingerprint recognition technology in smartphones to see if their molds match exactly, and some moulds may do so.
“If that is not the case we immediately take steps to react,” he said.
Protolabs has a valuation of nearly $670 million, according to Thomson Reuters data, after a share price surge after its $900 million takeover offer from South Korean rival Samsung SDI in 2016.
Protolabs, which employs 2,000 people in Asia, America and Europe, is also set to publish data on testing carried out by another firm to look at how frequently one defective mould can be used in such molds.
It expects to publish the data by June on the use of molds in mobile phones.
“As part of that there is going to be confidence that some of these mishaps have been mitigated as a result of a data set, which is a far more trusted data set, than in the current system,” Capaccio said.