Xometry, a company based out of Maryland, recently received a $15 million investment from the venture capital divisions of BMW and GE to help launch what is being described as the “Uber of Manufacturing”. The concept is both simple and well proven as companies such as Amazon and Uber have made their fortunes off the exact same idea. In this case Xometry, pronounced “Zometry” provides a software platform in which potential customers create a CAD file, upload it to Xometry’s website and then receive immediate price quotes for the part to be manufactured as well as delivery dates. The company already has over 5,000 customers using its site on a regular basis to get high quality parts for fields such as aerospace, medical, automotive and industrial.
Much like Uber brings riders and drivers together, Xometry brings parts buyers together with parts suppliers to create an immediate marketplace supply and demand situation. In this comparison the Uber customers looking for a ride are those looking to get parts produced, while the drivers are those shops looking to bid the job. Job Shops would then receive an email that would basically say, “You’ve got a $5,000 job, see the details. If you want the job click on this button” It’s just that simple for fabrication and job shops to quickly see a large variety of available jobs and select the ones that best fit their capabilities. While some smaller job shops have had concerns that this will simply turn into a price war, that has not proven to be completely true. In the end, customers have seen that some shops are offering a better price, others a better delivery time, others a higher quality part or a willingness to do small runs. The buyer then chooses what best suits their needs at the time.
Xometry describes their business as one that “quickly delivers quality custom parts to businesses of all sizes”. Xometry says that while they’ve attracted investors and customers such as GE and BMW they’ve seen the biggest beneficiaries be the mom and pop job shops. These are often multi-generational shops providing high-value parts but losing customers as they’re just not getting access to them through the more traditional sales and marketing methods. In many situations, these smaller shops haven’t gotten work outside of their immediate geographic area because customers in other parts of the country have simply never heard of them. Just as Amazon will now deliver anything from a bike to a loaf of bread to your door in two days, these shops are starting to see the country as a much smaller place as well. There’s no reason a shop in Connecticut can’t have parts shipped to a business in South Dakota. As President Trump is continuing with his “buy American, sell American” mantra Xometry is working to help companies do that. As smaller shops in New England are the backbone of manufacturing in the area finding ways to connect the highly valuable skills they offer to buyers all over the country is invaluable to the continued growth of American Manufacturing.
Industry experts are seeing this digital manufacturing as the process of the future. It’s easy to access and available to anyone; it might just be exactly what struggling shops need to stay alive as well as what growing shops need to get their highest skills and expensive equipment utilized by buyers in every corner of the country.