Compared to other machining processes, designing Sheet Metal parts is relatively straight-forward. Sheet metal parts are made from a single metal sheet by punching, cutting, stamping, and/or bending and are known for their end-use durability. But there are still many important design-for-manufacturability issues to consider.
Check out our list of quick tips and tolerance specifications for designing Sheet Metal countersinks, curls, and hems! And for even more information, download our free Sheet Metal Design Guide!
The maximum depth of a countersink is 3.5 times the material thickness of the part. Countersinks must be at least 8 times the material thickness from each other, 4 times the material’s thickness from an edge, and 3 times the material’s thickness from a bend.
Outside radius of curls must be at least 2 times the material’s thickness. Holes should be placed away from the curl at least a distance of the radius of the curl plus the material’s thickness. Bends should be at least 6 times the material’s thickness plus the radius of the curl.
Hems are folds to the edge of a part to create a rounded, safe edge. Hems may be open, flat, or tear-dropped, and tolerances depend on the hem’s radius, material thickness, and features near the hem (Note: flat hems risk fracturing the material at the bend and should be avoided if possible).
For open hems, minimum inside diameter is equal to the material thickness (larger diameters tend to lose circular shape), and the return length is at least 4 times the material’s thickness. Tear-dropped hems must maintain an inside diameter of at least one material’s thickness, an opening of at least ¼ the material’s thickness, and return length is also 4 times the material’s thickness.
Watch our latest video and learn how Xometry’s Partner Network is helping small manufacturing shops like True Precision Machining fill their excess capacity and grow their businesses!
The Xometry Partner Network provides members with free access to jobs through our online platform where you can view job details and only take the jobs that are a fit for your shop and fit within your shop’s capacity. There’s no bidding on jobs. Sign up today!
Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the history of Pittsburgh knows that it’s now the “Steel City” in name only. In the 1920s, Pittsburgh steel companies produced one-third of the world’s steel and the industry generated over 300,000 jobs that served as the backbone of the local economy. But in the early 1980s that dominance came to an abrupt end.
Deregulation and foreign competition sent the price of steel plummeting and it wasn’t long before Pittsburgh steel companies began hemorrhaging jobs — 133,000 between 1979 and 1987. In at least one Pittsburgh-area county, the unemployment rate reached 27 percent, which is higher than the peak national unemployment rate during the Great Depression.
But Pittsburgh eventually endured and adapted to the 21st century economy. Today, the city is the home of thriving companies in the technology, health care, and education industries. And though many of those steel-era manufacturing companies closed down, some managed to evolve with the times and are still operating today.
One such company is Ashby Manufacturing. Now owned and operated by Tim O’Donnell (his brother Kevin is also a part owner), it was founded by his father, Manus, in 1976. “My father came over from England in 1965,” O’Donnell recalled. “He went to school for engineering and wanted to see what America was like, so he and a friend came over here and he just fell in love with it. Came back six month later and started renting an apartment from my grandmother, which is how he met my mother.”
This was when steel was a still-thriving industry, and O’Donnell’s father started as a machinist for a shop called Miller Printing. It wasn’t long though before he started taking jobs on the side and then eventually left to start his own machine shop. It started as a small operation in Pittsburgh and as it grew he moved to a larger facility in the suburbs. “As it got bigger, everybody started pitching in and helping out,” recalled O’Donnell. “My mom would have a phone in the kitchen for business calls. She was basically our secretary.”
It was fairly early in his life that O’Donnell realized he would end up joining the family business. He began working for it as a teenager and then later went to school for engineering and business. He learned CAD technology, which was relatively new at that time, as well as the intricacies of fulfilling government contracts. And by working in his father’s shop, O’Donnell was exposed to some of the most experienced machinists in the business. “Really our strength is the people who have been working here for decades, which translates to a lot of experience on the floor,” he said. “The second guy we hired is still here, and so is the fourth guy we hired. There’s another gentlemen who has worked here for 22 years. Bouncing around with all those guys allowed me to learn from their wealth of experience, and then I was able to add some expertise of my own on the technology side of things.”
By the time the steel market crashed in the 80s, Ashby Manufacturing was well-positioned to weather the storm. “We bought some high end machines that a lot of our competitors didn’t have, and that allowed us to go after some high end work back then,” said O’Donnell. “That set us apart.” It also primed the company for what came to replace the steel industry; the rise of tech, health care, and service companies shifted much of Ashby Manufacturing’s focus from high-volume orders to low-volume jobs with quick turnarounds. “Small quantity, quick turnaround kind of work is what we found we shine to. We were small enough that we realized we could take on things like that.”
But even though Ashby Manufacturing adapted to the changing economy and secured business relationships that have lasted for decades, it was still subject to the boom and bust cycles that most smaller machine shops face. Such shops are often highly reliant on local industries, so they’ll struggle to fulfill a rush of orders and then wait for new orders to come in — a wait that could last days or even weeks. These manufacturers also experience difficulty securing new customers because they don’t have a marketing budget or sales team in place. “A potential new customer might come along who wants to manufacture a part, and so you spend several hours making sure you have the right materials and determining the cost,” said O’Donnell. “But then when you get back to them you find out you’re not the lowest bidder, or they were only toying with the idea of making a part and not all that serious about it. You do have to be careful how much time you spend quoting things.”
Earlier this year, O’Donnell solved this problem by signing on to Xometry’s Manufacturing Partner Network. “We had a representative come in from a large supply house, and he said, ‘There’s this thing called Xometry, and its guys are looking for small shops and you guys are a real good fit,’” recalled O’Donnell. After spending time on the Xometry website and speaking with someone from its partnership team, he decided to register for the program. “I think we had our first job within three or four days. It’s a pretty good system. Whenever someone posts a job to Xometry, we can see the delivery date, the materials, and the price, and so then all we have to do is decide whether we’re able to take the job or not.” He likes the fact that he doesn’t have to waste time with marketing or quoting prices.
So how does O’Donnell decide whether he’ll take on an order from the Xometry network? “Every day I come in I know I am going to have five or six jobs on Xometry that I can fit into any free space that I might have out on the floor,” he explained. “It is just really nice to be able to have it , because always in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Oh man, I have no new orders coming in from my current clients, but I could take this job that right here [on Xometry] and keep busy for a while.’ That is a huge for us.”
Not only does the Xometry partnership allow Ashby Manufacturing to pick up work during down time, but it also expands its client base beyond local industries. “Normally, it is really difficult for me to say, ‘Hi, I’m in Pennsylvania, and I would like to do some quick turnaround work for you and you are out in Colorado.’ A lot of buyers are like, ‘I want the guy down the street. But Xometry has taken out that distance factor.”
Since joining the network in mid-June, Ashby Manufacturing has taken on and completed 15 projects worth a combined $30,000. “I never have come in and not seen a job on your board,” he said. “In fact, I’m staring at my computer right now and there are six jobs here to look over.”
“In fact,” he added, laughing, “I might take a job right after we get off the phone.”
When Nick Anderson embarked on his career in unmanned aerial vehicles (the technical term for what’s commonly referred to as drones), the consumer market for this type of technology didn’t yet exist. While enthusiasts today can purchase handheld drones for less than a thousand dollars, when Anderson graduated college — in 2008, with a degree in aerospace engineering– the market mainly consisted of high-end products that were only available to the military and large-scale industries. “When I graduated, the only way to work on UAVs was to join one of the handful of companies that produced them,” he said in an interview.
And so Anderson took a job at Insitu, a drone company that, around the time of his hiring, was acquired by Boeing. He was hired on as a mechanical engineer and was responsible for structural layout, CAD design, and fabricating rapid prototype and composite parts. Two years later he took a job at Cloud Cap Technology, which built drone avionics and stabilized turrets for larger UAVs. By this point the consumer drone market had begun to heat up, and though he enjoyed his work, he started noticing that lower-cost drones were beginning to take on tasks that weren’t well served by the higher-end UAV industry. “I bought a drone off Amazon and began playing around with it,” he recalled. “I saw it as this cool technology and individuals and small companies were making some neat data products out of these low-altitude drones. What struck me was that I had been working on these higher-end drones and they couldn’t produce images as good as the ones taken by a GoPro.”
Anderson and Greg Davis, a colleague who had worked with him at both Insitu and Cloud Cap, noticed that land management personnel, forest firefighters, and especially farmers were using these low-altitude drones rather than their high-altitude counterparts. “With the rate at which the imaging technology was developing, it seemed like there was an opportunity to marry those two together” — high resolution cameras with high-altitude drones — “and come up with some pretty cool ideas that would allow these larger, more expensive platforms to take the same quality of images, but at a much larger scale.”
What did this mean from a practical standpoint? Well, farmers were already using consumer drones to take aerial photos of their crops to assess their health, but, due to these drones’ ability to only fly at low altitudes, they were limited in scope and usefulness. A high-altitude drone, the kind that costs tens of thousands of dollars, can cover a larger geographic area at a faster speed.
Realizing there was a market opportunity, Anderson and Davis quit their jobs at Cloud Cap last year so they could launch Overwatch Imaging, a hardware and software company that builds high-quality imaging technology for drones.
Overwatch’s first product, launched late last summer, is called Firewatch and is designed for use by forest fire fighting teams. “We took a thermal camera and a daytime camera and coupled them together with a big computer on board to analyze the images that those cameras are taking in real time,” he explained. “It’s designed for forest fire mapping, to create a real time heat map of what is going on that shows up in Google Earth and other data programs.”
Currently there are only a handful of planes used nationwide for forest fire monitoring. “They fly over the Western U.S. and map these big fires at night” Anderson said. “Obviously they can’t go everywhere, so if your fire isn’t big enough or you don’t put in your request soon enough you may not get data for two or three days.” With the Firewatch system, a forest service employee could get the same quality data, and then they wouldn’t have to wait for one of those planes to become available.
Anderson and Davis developed the initial concepts for Firewatch in March. “We came up with three different prototypes and then around May we ordered all of the aluminum parts and expensive cameras,” said Anderson. For the prototyping, Overwatch relied on two in-house 3D printers and Xometry. “The printers we have at the office are great for when we want to get an immediate look at something,” he said. “But it is not the level of quality or refinement that we could get from a part printed by Xometry. So we had some parts that were built in-house, but the vast majority of the prototyping stuff was built through Xometry along with all production parts.”
Once the product was ready for market, it was then a matter of leveraging their personal network and attending trade shows to sell it. “There was the reaction of, ‘Yeah, we were waiting for something like this,’” said Anderson. “But also because you have these thermal cameras and the amount of electrical and software work that had to go into it, it’s quite expensive, so it’s not something a company decides to acquire overnight. So there was some serious work to get that first initial order in.”
But the customer response was strong enough that Anderson felt confident there was sufficient demand. So Overwatch set about developing its next product: Cropwatch. “That one we kicked off in August and we delivered in October,” he said. “For Cropwatch, we were able to use a lot of the same design and intellectual property we had come up with for Firewatch. The main distinction is that the Firewatch includes a thermal camera to detect heat, whereas Cropwatch uses two daytime cameras that are modified to be sensitive to the particular frequencies to tell if a crop is healthy or not.”
Because Overwatch doesn’t build the drones itself, just the imaging technology that can be added with the drone, it teams up with drone companies that sell their services to these large agriculture companies and park services. “We are selling to the large agri-businesses of the world,” said Anderson, “those large companies that operate lots and lots of farms. The smaller, traditional farmers can use the consumer drones because they only need to map a thousand acres at most. For our product, we are talking about the ability to map all of North Dakota with a single UAV.”
While Overwatch is focused largely on expanding its penetration into the agriculture and land management services market, Anderson said there are plenty of new areas for which the company can customize its technology.
“Part of the company’s value proposition is the customized aspect,” he said. “We are trying to solve challenging problems that other companies have, so that kind of branches us out in a lot of different directions. We’re developing a core architecture that is mechanical and software based that we can then very quickly leverage into the right solution for different sized-aircraft, be it domestic or international. The plan is to grow, so right now we are hiring and expanding.”
Material selection is a critical component in determining the overall functionality and cost of your part. In a previous post, we discussed the strengths and trade-offs of the different types materials that can be milled and turned.
Here are a few additional guidelines to consider for choosing the metal or plastic that’s right for your part!
What will your part be used for?
The environment where your CNC part will be used will have the most significant impact on material selection. For example, if you’re using your part outside or in wet environments, use Stainless Steel as opposed to Carbon Steel so your part won’t rust.
Design specifications like stress load, tolerance, types of fastening (welding, rivets) can also impact your choice of material, as can standardized specifications such as for military and aerospace parts or FDA-regulated environments will impact your choice of material.
Does weight matter?
In general, standard aluminum alloys like 6061 are a great, low density option to keep weight down if a metal is required. Plastics like Delrin and ABS can help keep the weight down even more if tradeoffs in strength can be made.
Strength and heat resistance
There are many different ways to measure material strength including tensile strength, material hardness, and wear resistance. Selecting the types of strength your design calls for will allow you to get the best material for your part.
Likewise, very low or very high temperatures will also restrict you from using certain materials. Environments where the temperature fluctuates are particularly important to consider since some materials will expand or contract considerably even with small temperature changes.
The manufacturability and overall cost of your project will influence your choice of material. The more material your part uses, the more expensive it will be. Likewise, speciality materials and materials that are lightweight and very strong, like Titanium, will also cost more.
For more information, you can contact our expert engineers via email@example.com upload your 3D CAD file directly on our website or use our free SOLIDWORKS Add-In for instant quoting and manufacturability feedback.
A common misconception about prototyping is that it’s reserved for early in the product development cycle. But the truth is, many engineers use prototyping in several phases, iterating early and often to present, test and perfect their ideas.
If you’re not building multiple prototypes, you might be costing yourself more in the long run – by being later to market, having a sub-optimal product design, or spending more on larger manufacturing runs.
To help you perfect your design and save on costs, we’ve put together a list of five key prototyping phases, along with a few of the manufacturing processes best suited for each.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
To convey your idea or develop a sales model. This phase typically occurs early in the product development lifecycle, and the aim is to build either a one-off piece or several pieces quickly. In this stage, prototypes can have a wide range of prices, depending on what is needed – from quick and relatively inexpensive 3D printed prototypes that can bring a concept to life within a few days, to more polished, professional-looking sales models that are typically more time-consuming and resource-intensive to produce (e.g., CNC machining).
To create a working model. The goal is to demonstrate core functionality and prove that the design works as intended, without necessarily trying to match the aesthetics of the finished product. In some cases, a proof of concept will use off-the-shelf components to help save on costs. SLS, which uses a durable white nylon and is commonly paired with metal inserts, is a popular choice for working models. It’s also one of the most cost-effective 3D printing processes.
To validate the aesthetics, ergonomics, or scale of a product. In this stage, the prototype simulates the final product, and the aim is to analyze for the best usability and overall ease of use. Typically, the focus is on using similar materials to the final product. For example, PolyJet 3D printing can create rubber-like parts, and FDM uses the same thermoplastics that can be found in injection molded pieces. Along with metal CNC machined prototypes and metal 3D printing, there are also some great, low-cost alternatives for building metal parts, e.g., SLS nylon with nickel plating.
To see if an idea will actually work. The goal of a functional prototype is to fail fast by testing early and often through iterative design. Potential applications include testing aerodynamics, mechanical performance, mechanical properties, and thermal performance. For this phase of prototyping, investments are better applied at the beginning, rather than towards the end of the process – when mistakes can cost more to correct. Fortunately, there are a variety of rapid prototyping processes today that are capable of building functional prototypes quickly, cost-effectively and with high precision.
To optimize a product for volume manufacturing. A pre-manufacturing research prototype will look and function similar to a finished product that you would find on either a store shelf (if a consumer product) or in an industrial setting. Importantly, this phase of prototyping involves examining parts through the lens of design for manufacturing/design for assembly, in order to make production efficient at large quantities. Oftentimes small changes in product design, or changes that would not be noticeable to the end-user, can have a big impact on cost – especially at high volumes.
Whether you love it or hate it, having a Facebook Page for your business isn’t just “nice to have” anymore. It’s become an essential tool for businesses looking to expand their sales efforts. Almost 8 out of every 10 Internet-using American adults are already on Facebook. The manufacturing sector is no exception to this trend. According to a recent study by Engineering.com, nearly 31% of engineers surveyed said they use social media for work and 42% of engineers surveyed indicated that they regularly stumble upon work-related materials when they use social media in their personal lives.
Facebook users looking at your business’s page are likely to be learning about your business, checking out other customers’ comments and deciding whether to work with you.
I researched approximately 100 machine shops for this article and found 56% of them had a Facebook Page, while another 13% had an “unmanaged” Facebook Pages. That means that Facebook has created a framework for your business based on people searching for you or checking in to your location.
To help your shop get ahead of the competition, here are quick tips to help you maximize your Facebook presence and drive sales. Start small at first with a few minutes getting your Page set up or updated. A couple hours a month can go a long way.
1. Get started by creating a business Page or claiming an unmanaged account
If you don’t already have a business Page, you can log into your personal account to set one up. Facebook’s setup instructions are easy to follow and it only takes a couple of minutes.
When creating your machine shop’s Page, be sure to complete the following steps:
Fill out all information in the About Section as completely as possible.
Upload a cover photo that showcases work from your shop.
Set up your “Preferred Page Audience.” These are the people you want to see your new Page. Try to target groups that match the kinds of parts you make. For example, if your shop specializes in auto parts, you may want to include “Automotive Industry” in your targets.
Sometimes, a Page may exist for your business even if you did not create it. Often these “unmanaged” Pages are automatically created because customers have “checked in” to your business. An unmanaged Page is generated to represent your location. Claiming your Facebook Page is easy. Simply follow the steps here.
Once you’ve set up your Page, you’re ready to start populating your Page with content about your machine shop!
2. Post helpful information and respond to questions and comments
Setting up a post and answering questions shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you have a company blog or running promotions or sales on your site, I recommend cross-posting them on Facebook.This will give them more exposure, improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, don’t just post content from your site. Mix it up a bit with current events such as recognizing holidays or events or by sharing interesting industry-related articles that appeal to you and your customers.
3. “Pin” important posts to the top of your Page
Each time you post new content on your Page, older posts get pushed further down on your timeline. But sometimes you may want a specific post – that did very well – to stay at the top of your Page even after you’ve published updates.
To pin a post, click the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of your post and then click “Pin to Top.” Now your post will stay at the top of your Page until you decide to remove it.
4. Use photos and videos
We know your shop is in the business of creating quality parts. If you have permission from your customers, don’t be afraid to show off your work online! Photos and videos have proven to be the most engaging type of content to post on Facebook. Incorporating visual elements into your posts is a fast and easy way to create engaging content for your target audience. I’ve seen a number of businesses have great videos on their site and even a handful of YouTube pages so many of you already have the content.
5. Reaching the right audience
Facebook Insights is a free, built-in tool that allows you to analyze the data associated with your shop’s Page, including your Page’s reach, likes and actions taken on your Page. It is automatically activated once your Page receives 30 likes. It even allows you to compare your Page’s performance with other Pages like it, giving you valuable information on other business similar to yours.
Access Insights by navigating to the Insights tab at the top of your Page. Your data will display on the left hand side of the screen.
Facebook may not make a dramatic change overnight, but a solid foundation and and regular posts can go a long way.
If you found this article helpful, check out my post on Five Tips to Drive Sales for Your Machine Shop and consider joining Xometry’s Partner network if you haven’t done so already. Please feel free to ask me any marketing related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or @billcronin15 on Twitter.
Xometry’s Partner Network provides members with free access to jobs through our online platform. Only take the jobs that are a fit for your shop and your capacity. Sign up for free and try it with no fees or commitment!
Dr. Deidre Quinn-Gorham remembers the lightbulb moment when she began thinking about how to introduce 3D printing into her profession. “I had heard about 3D printing off and on but a couple of years ago my step dad gave me a magazine issue of National Geographic and showed me this article that was entitled ‘Just Press Print,’’ she recalled in an interview. “And it had this beautiful layout of some of the things that you can utilize 3D printing for, and it spanned from printing of food to clothing material to actual organs.” Shortly afterward, she read an article in a veterinary medical journal about someone who 3D printed a skeletal model of a dog.
As the coordinator of educational programs and instructional technology at Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, this was just the kind of technological use case Quinn-Gorham was keeping an eye out for. What does that title mean? “My job is to develop educational programs to incorporate into the curriculum and scope out innovations in technology that would enhance teaching and learning,” she said. “If I find a particular technological tool that I think would enhance the teaching process or the students’ learning, then I will investigate that particular item and present that to the dean, and we go from there to see if it is feasible for our instructors and students.”
She also has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. “I really got hooked onto technology when I was in veterinary school and we were required to take computer classes in which they introduced various software programs to us, and it just kind of escalated from there,” said Quinn-Gorham. “I never lost that desire to learn more about the technological advances that were out there and combine that with veterinary medicine.”
This background helped as Quinn-Gorham began thinking about how she could leverage 3D printing in the veterinary school’s curriculum. She started by visiting the department of aerospace science engineering at her school, which had recently utilized 3D printing to build a small-scale model of a solar-powered house. She was soon introduced to Dr. M. Javed Khan, the department head of aerospace science engineering. “I told him that I wanted to see their 3D printing in action because I have some ideas for how it could be used in veterinary medicine,” she recalled. “So he invited me over and that’s when the journey began to unfold.”
Quinn-Gorham started the project by going to a former surgical instructor of hers, Dr. Howard King, and asking him for a metal plate that’s often used to repair fractures in dogs. Her thinking was that veterinarians could use 3D printing and modeling to reproduce metal plates and possibly other surgical instruments. In another scenario, her former instructor also mentioned how veterinarians could 3D print a version of the fractured bone so that they can evaluate the fracture before the surgical procedure and show it to the pet’s owner to better explain the nature of the injury.
When Quinn-Gorham returned to her university’s engineering department, they were able to use a 3D printer to print a smaller version of the metal plate in plastic. To get an idea of how the plate would look in its metal form, she started looking around for other solutions, and that’s when she discovered Xometry. After getting a high-resolution scan of the plate and having it converted into a CAD file, she sent it over. “Xometry gave me back some excellent models,” she said. “The plate was actually printed in aluminum because the stainless steel was a little costly and I had a limited budget.”
So does this mean the veterinary school will immediately begin incorporating 3D printing into its curriculum? Well, not quite yet, but Quinn-Gorham’s experiment got the ball rolling. “One thing that came as a result of my interacting with the school of engineering is that we’ve formed a partnership,” she explained. Recently, the department of aerospace science engineering acquired a brand new 3D printer. “Over the summer, I acquired a scapula — which is a shoulder bone of a dog — that I brought over. They scanned it for me and printed out a couple of samples in different sizes.”
Why is this significant? Well, veterinary schools often have a difficult time obtaining an adequate number of animal bones — which come in many different shapes and sizes depending on the breed — to use in their teaching. “The 3D printed versions last longer than actual bones and are a little more resistant to breakage,” said Quinn-Gorham. “If you drop a bone and it’s an older specimen, you might chip off a structure that’s a landmark for that particular part of the anatomy and you can no longer use it. These lightweight materials give a little more resistance to breaking. Besides, if a 3D-printed specimen breaks, you can just print out another one.”
But that’s only the beginning. Quinn-Gorham is already thinking ahead to other uses the school can get from the technology. “Anytime you have a chance for interdisciplinary collaboration, it opens the door to so many possibilities for new ventures in education and funding opportunities for both areas,” she said. “So it is a win-win situation every way you look at it.”
At Xometry we’re focused on helping small manufacturers across the nation improve their business. There are over 190,000 manufacturers who employ less than 20 people and don’t have much time or resources to market to new customers.
A number of our ideas have to do with Digital Marketing. Don’t think that can help drive your business? Think again. Over the past 2 years the number of searches in Google for “machine shop near me” has increased significantly.
Here are a few ideas to quickly grow your sales that don’t cost a dime.
1. Highlight customer testimonials
You’re used to getting business through word-of-mouth referrals, but customers are now deferring to online resources to find shops to work with. Potential customers get to know you through your website and other channels like Google before doing business with you, and testimonials from existing customers are one of the best ways to showcase your value.
I reviewed over 100 manufacturing and machine shop websites across the United States, and less than 25% of them contained at least one customer testimonial. This simple addition to your website will help you stand out from the crowd and put you well ahead of the competition.
Don’t be afraid to ask your good existing customers for an endorsement. Even if they can’t you use their names, you can use a description like “Project Engineer, Fortune 500 Aerospace Company.” It’s ok to remind them a couple times.
2. Write one blog post per month
You are an expert in your field, and there is information in your head that customers find valuable. Start small with one blog post each month. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes. It is a small commitment and shouldn’t take away from your time on the machine shop floor. Write about anything relevant that could interest your current and prospective customers.
And don’t forget, your blog fuels Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google prioritize high-value, targeted content, and maintaining a monthly blog will increase the amount of people that are able to find your business online.
3. Join LinkedIn to improve personal SEO
LinkedIn is a free way to improve your personal SEO and provide another place for customers to learn about you before they buy. A few minutes building your profile with your experience and expertise is well worth the effort. You can also use it to ask for recommendations and endorsements.
4. Use Google Analytics for free to understand your site traffic
Google Analytics is a free, powerful tool that helps you understand the types of users viewing your site. Your current customers may not be spending any time on your site, but your potential customers are likely to check you out. With Google Analytics you can get a clear view of how many people come to your site and what they do when they’re there. You can also see where these visitors are located across the nation. There’s even an incredibly easy app you can use on your phone — I admit, I check these stats myself for our site several times a day!
For easy to follow tips on launching your free Google Analytics account review this set-up guide.
5. Sign up with Xometry to grow your business
Looking to grow your business or fill excess capacity? Xometry’s Partner Network provides members with free access to jobs through our online platform where you can view job details and only take the jobs that are a fit for your shop and fit within your shop’s capacity. There’s no bidding on jobs.
Xometry has over 3,000 customers who order parts who our incredibly easy-to-use platform that provides instant pricing, lead times and manufacturability feedback. We currently offer services including CNC Machining, 3D Printing, Sheet Metal and Urethane Casting. Simply sign up with no commitment or fees and try it out!