As 3D printing becomes a more accepted part of mainstream life 3D printing service providers are in higher demand than ever before. While there is a good chance that you’ve heard of companies like Shapeways, i.materialise and Sculpteo, it is less likely that you’ve ever heard of Xometry. The Maryland-based company is taking the successful online 3D printing services business model and expanding it to include a full list of instant manufacturing options. The hope is that they are completely changing the way that products get made and opening up a whole new world of manufacturing and fabrication options to smaller companies that would never be able to have their products made using traditional methods.
Large manufacturing and fabrication companies tend to only be interested in large quality orders and huge companies with deep pockets. That isn’t completely hard to understand of course; running a traditional manufacturing company requires huge, expensive and complicated machinery that needs to be running as often as possible in order to maintain profitability. Any special tooling or fittings needed for manufacturing or assembly needs to be removed or changed between each job which leads to down time, so smaller runs of products are simply not profitable for businesses at this scale. Smaller companies are going to have limited capacity, and higher costs, that often price them out of reach for startups or small businesses.
Xometry on the other hand specializes in manufacturing technologies that are inexpensive to operate and maintain, which allows them to focus directly on almost everyone who could need a small or medium manufacturing run of their products. A company of this type my struggle if they needed to rely on local businesses, but thanks to their slick online interface they make requesting their services as easy as ordering a t-shirt from Amazon. Companies that offer manufacturing services online are not new — many have been doing it for more than a decade now. But the process is often time consuming, imprecise and usually requires direct interaction with company representatives or sales associates. But by the very nature of the technologies that they specialize in, Xometry has automated virtually the entire process.
“Whether you are a Fortune 100 company or a startup, you receive instant pricing and expert recommendations just by uploading a 3D-CAD file. It’s the same process whether you need a CNC Machining solution, 3D-printed part or Urethane casting. In the past, in order to build a custom part, it took considerable time to figure out the manufacturability and pricing. We simplify the process and help ensure you get the parts you need at a low cost,” Xometry CEO and co-founder Randy Altschuler recently explained to DC Inno.
The Xometry online interface allows potential customers to get price quotes, manage orders, reorder previous jobs and even get live assistance from experts and engineers. They offer a huge list of manufacturing services, including selective laser sintering, FDM 3D printers, PolyJet 3D printers, direct metal laser sintering, metal EDM 3D printers, CNC machining and spindle lathe manufacturing. And all anyone needs to price any of these services as to upload a 3D CAD file no larger than 300mb. They even support a ton of different file types, like stl, step, stp, iges, igs, x_t, x_b or sldprt. Once a 3D file has been uploaded, the systems software will automatically produce several service options based on what the parts are for, how quickly they are needed, any cost ceilings and any specific material requirements.
They offer a surprisingly robust number of services, features and ordering options that you just don’t ever see made available to a company of virtually any size. They boast a list of clients that any two-year-old company would kill for, like P&G, Boeing, Toyota, Raytheon, GE, NASA and the US Department of Defense. But the amazing part of their service is a small startup is going to receive the exact same service as any of those huge Fortune 500 global conglomerates. Their business model is already paying off: after opening their doors in late 2013 Xometry has already served more than 16,000 different companies.
The 50+ employee company recently opened a new facility in Bethesda, Maryland that they intend to use to double their personal by the end of 2016. The company’s endgame is clear, they want their software platform to become in the industry standard. With most of their new hires being software developers and marketing that’s a goal that seems more than attainable. Offering scalable, flexible and easily accessible custom additive and subtractive manufacturing services is very likely the future of manufacturing, and Xometry is looking to set the standards. Discuss in the Xometry 3D Printing Services forum over at 3DPB.com.