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On-Demand Webinar: Xometry's Top Questions of 2019—Answered

In this on-demand webinar, a panel of Xometry engineers discuss the top questions Xometry received about its services in 2019. These include questions about NDAs, quality control, and specific project tips on designing parts for machining, additive, injection molding, urethane casting, and sheet metal fabrication.

Serena Ngoh - Xometry Contributor
By Serena Ngoh
October 9, 2020
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In this on-demand webinar, a panel of four Xometry engineers discuss the top questions Xometry received about its services in 2019. CNC expert Mark Gallagher, 3D printing guru Tommy Lynch, Director of Application Engineering Greg Paulsen, and injection molding lead Kyle Adams tackle questions about NDAs, international supply, and specific project tips on designing parts for machining, additive, injection molding, urethane casting, and sheet metal fabrication.

Questions answered in the webinar:

  • What is Xometry and who makes the parts?
  • How do you protect my information?
  • What are the biggest and smallest features you can produce for each process?
  • Can you make a part in ____? What are your strongest materials?
  • When should I choose 3D printing vs machining?
  • When should a project be printed, cast, or molded?
  • What 3D file types are accepted?
  • How does Xometry control quality for machining and sheet metal, molding and casting, and 3D printing?
  • What is the difference between a prototype and a production injection mold? How do tool material and construction, hand loads v. lifters v. slides, typical part run, and revision sensitivity factor in?
  • And more during the live Q & A


Serena Ngoh: All right, we're going to go ahead and get started. Thank you everyone for joining our live webinar today. We'll be answering your top questions of 2019. Before we get started, I would like to introduce myself. I'm Serena and I will be your MC and facilitating questions in the later half of this webinar. Throughout the webinar, please feel free to enter any questions into the question box as they come to you. Again, this webinar is all about answering your questions. So we will be devoting hopefully somewhere around of this webinar to questions on the spot. After the webinar, we'll send you a recording for you to re-watch or share with your colleagues and stick around until the end for a special discount code for our webinar attendees. Now, I want to introduce our presenters.

Serena Ngoh: Our first presenter is Greg Paulsen. He is the Director of Application Engineering here at Xometry. He spent a decade working with engineers on custom manufacturing projects using CNC machining, additive manufacturing, sheet metal, urethane casting and injection molding. Prior to Xometry, Greg worked in product development with a focus on ruggedized electromechanical systems. Next, I'd like to introduce Mark Gallagher. He is our Senior Manager of Operations here at Xometry. He recently pioneered a new Xometry office on the West Coast and is focused on supporting aerospace and defense clients out there. He is your go-to for all questions about precision machining and our manufacturing network. So our panel is reporting in from all across the United States here.

Serena Ngoh: Next we have Kyle Adams. He is a Senior Injection Molding Engineer at Xometry. Kyle has been in the rapid manufacturing industry for 14 years now. Prior to Xometry, Kyle developed expertise in quick turn prototype injection tooling while consulting with customers to deliver parts to their specific project needs.

Serena Ngoh: And finally, we have Tommy Lynch, Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Xometry. Tommy brings over a decade of experience in additive manufacturing with hands-on experience in 3D printing, including direct experience in SLA, SLS, DMLS, FDM and urethane casting. So with that, we'll go ahead and get started on your top questions of 2019.

Greg Paulsen: Awesome and yeah, I'll get started. Just kind of telling you how small this world is sometimes, so Kyle in a previous life actually sold me projects when I worked in my previous life as an engineer and Tommy probably at some point or another actually made some projects when I was outsourcing rapid prototyping and we've all come together as a team to essentially be this powerhouse for information. Mark joined on the team and has gained this almost intuitive knowledge, defense and aerospace manufacturing, just by working so closely with advanced projects, thanks to advanced finishes. So you guys have a really, really good team and beyond just the questions we're going over, these top questions for 2019, I highly recommend asking anything about manufacturing, and manufacturing projects. These questions that you may have and we're going to try to get to as many as we can as part of this webinar. Because you have amazing brains right now at your service, except for me. I'm the MC.

Greg Paulsen: So again, we do CNC machine and sheet metal fabrication, expertise in plastic 3D printing and metal 3D printing. The other thing, casting injection models. So get those questions ready.

Greg Paulsen: Today, we are going to go over the top questions that we received and some of these things we see on a daily basis from customers and we want to address those within this webinar and answer some of these, what is Xometry? How does it work? How do you handle my info sort of questions. We've consolidated this down to about seven major topics here, but obviously there's a lot that goes on the manufacturing space. Although we have these ones are the main ones that we hear frequently, especially for those who are new to the program and of course we're going to open up our open Q&A afterwards.

Greg Paulsen: So, I'm going to get started on this. What is Xometry? Xometry is a manufacturing as a service. So, we have a single store front, which is at website where you can click, drag and upload a 3D part file and get it instantly quoted in several manufacturing technologies, several materials, features, finishes. We do that by injecting essentially artificial intelligence and machine learning right up front. So, it is not the standard RFQ process where you may be submitting the ZIP file with your spreadsheet saying please quote quantity one, five, 10 and putting your other files in with the zip and sending out to other four people that are local to you.

Greg Paulsen: We're actually taking data science and applying it to traditional manufacturing. So, it's a single storefront, the single place you can go and the single provider for many different services. What we offer with this and what really makes us unique is this manufacturing partner network that we have that helps us service and make the parts on demand for you. So, we have a partner network over 3000 manufacturers and we will actually pair work as it runs through Xometry site with those manufacturers that are best able to produce it.

Greg Paulsen: So, we're backing that all with our AS & ISO quality systems. If you have work that is export control, we have a whole ITAR network to work with. And because we're not spending all our time quoting, we're able to give you world class service. Something that like, I like to say, don't think manufacturer service think hotel concierge service, that's what we really strive for you here at Xometry.

Greg Paulsen: So, let me just show you how it works. I really say the site sells. It can just show you a lot just by doing a quote or two. So, I'm going to move over to our instant quoting site and starting at here. You can see a bunch of different technologies that we offer. So, for example, we have seven different types of 3D printing services alone. And then materials underneath that, I think we're around 70 plus materials now for 3D printing services, not including infill configured abilities.

Greg Paulsen: Some things before you go to the quoting site, if you're looking to learn, check out our expert design tips for design guides, video, FAQ, ultimate guides, great resource. We just updated some of that recently here. We have add-ins for solid works and inventors, so you could get some of the resources from our site, including instant quoting right in your CAD platform.

Greg Paulsen: And if you want to dig a little bit deeper again, our materials and photo galleries are great places to start here. But yeah, let's get a quote. So, what we require to get a quote is usually a parasolid ZIP file, like a step solid part. X_T, X_B something from Inventor IPT file. But we can take a lot of our native CAD formats. Parasolids are nice because like I can quote them in every single one of the processes we offer. If you do have a mesh file like STL or OBJ, you can use that. But that'll only limit you to 3D printing processes and urethane casting.

Greg Paulsen: So this is our website to get a quote site. So I'm going to go ahead and just take a part here. So let's go and take this. I actually just recently did an article on jigs and fixtures and I designed a little fixture here for laser marking a part. So, that's it. We just got a quote. The second, that this part is uploaded, your quote is sent out immediately. And we can go and dig deeper, even further configure this part here. But the cheapest process that this is quoted out to, was our durable white nylon through SLS. So selective laser centering in a 3D printing process.

Greg Paulsen: Let's go ahead and take a look at what options I have for this part. So I'm going to click modify part and this part will be loading up here so I could see a 3D viewer of it. Again, this is for laser marking, so I was able to extrude up to the part that I will be holding. So, I have all these great little custom contours for it. I have a part marking a label here, so whether it's for inventory, or it's just making sure that we are marketing the right thing, I could actually just embed text right on this part and SLS is good, but let's go ahead and say, "Hey, I want to make this something maybe with a softer touch to it."

Greg Paulsen: So I can move this. Let's go to PolyJet for example. PolyJet I could actually do rubber-like photo polymers for this and I'm going to bring it up to a really rigid shore rubber-like, because I'm laser marking this part but I don't want my actual fixture to merge. So, just as quickly as I configure it, my pricing and lead times update.

Greg Paulsen: You can also take a look at this in different processes. So, let's say I need to machine this and I can click CNC machine here. I'll click on the most commoditized material 6061-T6 and you'll see that price update immediately. You'll also see that I have several options for this. So, we have our expedite if I need it sooner. And let me go here so you can see the dates. So, expedite, I could get this by November 14th, standard, on November 19th and I even have an economy option, which saves me over 50% price.

Greg Paulsen: So, if you have a longer lead time, you can actually save a lot of money with our economy option, especially for CNC machined parts and sheet metal parts. The other thing is that we incorporate economies of scale. So say this part is an expensive, quantity one. If I'm building this up, that quantity 10. You can see the price and monetizes much, much, better because a lot of those setups are actually now more times over the quantity of those parts. So you can see this instant pricing, see how it works and kind of work on the interaction of that part and even gain pricing as you're quoting using something like our SolidWorks add-in or adventure add-in.

Greg Paulsen: Some other things to show on this website that are very important. If you could add certifications, you can see different things. So if this is actually export control, for example, I click ITAR, or EAR registration, it'll automatically apply that and make sure it channels for our manufacturing network of ITAR network as well as other things like materials or like COC traceability. But that's it. This is a spec manufacturing with an e-commerce feel to it.

Greg Paulsen: Well, we got a lot of questions to go for. So, again, we are focused on making this a simple elegant buying experience for spec manufactured components. But the next question that really comes up is, all right, so I'm uploading my information and Mark, how do we protect our customers information?

Mark Gallagher: Sure. Thanks Greg. So we definitely understand how critical it is for our customers' confidential information and their intellectual property to maintain its confidentiality. So we're very, very cautious about this. All of the work that's uploaded to the Xometry platform is confidential. If you are outside of cemetery staff, if you upload it to our platform, you're the only person that can access it. We also obviously have partner NDA chains that we flow down to all of the manufacturers in our partner network. We take that very, very seriously. Part of the onboarding experience for our partners, and one of the first steps is them completing an NDA.

Mark Gallagher: We also have a secure digital thread. So all of the files are stored on DFARS and NIST compliant servers and the file upload process, we call it a one way street. once the files are uploaded, they can't be downloaded by the customer. So if customers change businesses or things like that, they don't have access to those files they used to have access to.

Mark Gallagher: Obviously, that digital thread is very critical and we maintain that confidentiality throughout the entire manufacturing process. Obviously we understand there may be more questions about that. So if anybody has any questions like that afterwards, we will have a Q and a session.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. Mark you talked about this all day and literally has talked about this all day, right?

Mark Gallagher: Yeah.

Greg Paulsen: We are consistently onboarding new clients, including major aerospace and defense organizations that often requires onsite audits. We actually just had one the other day and pass it and actually they're really pleased because a lot of times this digital thread makes it so much easier to see what happens to my files. And so it's almost like an easier system than a single shop because we have this very transparent digital system that manage all parts of our network. So, after confidentiality is we start talking materials and parts and this is probably the biggest question I get is can you make a hole that's X or can you make a wall thickness that is Y? And we get this question all the time. So I'm going to go down the line and work as almost like a panel, Tommy and Mark, Kyle, what are the biggest and smallest features that we can produce?

Tommy Lynch: Right. Thanks Greg. So with 3D printing there, there are constraints and then it's typically going to be around the bounding box of the printing platform. So, as we have highlighted here, our largest platform that we have in house is a 36 inch by 24 inch build footprint that can build up to 36 inches tall. That's going to be with our FDM machines. So you're printing parts out of extruded filament. And that technology is primarily geared towards making larger parts, those larger automotive applications or aerospace panels. And it's not as well suited for the finer details. So on the opposite end of the spectrum I'd say about the best you can get is going to be in the high resolution stereolithography realm. And typically you're going to be limited to just under a half millimeter recommended feature size, but you're constrained in most cases to roughly a 10 inch by 10 inch footprint. And you probably don't want to go over five inches tall on a single bill.

Tommy Lynch: So there's, there's a wide range of, we can image less than a half millimeter or we can build up to a three foot by two foot box. But when you're building with the box, your minimum feature size is going to be closer to about one and a half millimeters. And then there's technologies in between that will do everything else. Just depending on what your application or mechanical requirements and cosmetic requirements are.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah, and something I wanted to add too is when you're doing some of this SLA, it is a supported material, which means that support structure, the sacrificial structure is made when you're growing those parts. Sometimes fine feature details if they're not growing in what we call natural, which means that if it's natural, it doesn't need support, it's going out like a 45 degree angle or vertical. If it is supported and it's a fine feature detail, like a small pin sometimes that support structure can be stronger than that actual feature. It's just something to be mindful of in your design.

Greg Paulsen: And that's why we have an engineering DFM team review all the parts that go through our system because we want to catch that as soon as possible if we see something that just is a red flag on a design combined with that process.

Greg Paulsen: Now, Mark Tommy's got these constraints because platforms, I mean they just have a size to them. How's that different for CNC and sheet metal from a big and small feature standpoint?

Mark Gallagher: Absolutely. So, on the machining and sheet metal fabrication side of things, obviously the limits on what we can do on both the large scale and the small scale are much softer. And that's because we do have this very, very large partner network of around 2000 different manufacturing facilities that focus on machining and sheet metal fabrication. And the nice thing about the network approach is that all of those manufacturers have different areas of expertise. So, we have manufacturing partners that might specialize in oil and gas. They're in Texas and they have really large vertical turret lays and huge gantry mills and things like that. And they can manufacture really large plate components and things like that all day.

Mark Gallagher: On the other end of the spectrum we have small medical device fabrication facilities, they have Swiss turn machines and they can make tiny parts that would fit on the tip of your finger like in this image. So the range of capabilities on the machining and sheet metal fabrication side is definitely much broader and compared to additive manufacturing, it's harder to give extents, but obviously we do still have limits and we want to take on work that fits within our core competencies as well. But it's still very flexible.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. And adding to that, something to notice, we have the instant online quoting engine. At a certain extent, it partly may go into a RFQ state, which means that a price is not shown. It just has RFQ. And that buy now button at the upper right hand corner will turn into a request manual quote button. Feel free to complete your information, put in your quantities, finishes, whatever else he need and submit for review. We just don't have enough data for an AI to learn on those larger parts. It doesn't mean that we're incapable of it. It just means that we want to take a look at that manual. You get one of our expert CNC estimator to work on that project.

Mark Gallagher: So if you upload a six foot long airframe components, it hopefully will not auto quote, but we're still happy to manually review it for sure.

Greg Paulsen: Absolutely. And now Kyle, we're talking machine size and things like that, but it's a little bit different when we talk about presses. I mean, there's definitely is like a broad planar face, right? Like X, Y face there. But we usually talk in tonnage. What's that difference? Why do we talk tonnage when we talk about size of parts? All right, I'm going to say that that question's rhetorical. Well, Kyle is troubleshooting his mic here. So being that I was a director of molding for a 10 month stint here, I could talk a little bit about that.

Greg Paulsen: So tonnage is the amount of pressure it takes to hold the machine close while injecting that thermo-plastic. So, 50 ton press is really holding these two halves of the mold shut at 50 tons. And the pressure going in must be less than 50 tons before or else you're going to get something called flash, which is where it kind of will push out and you'll get some material creeping out of the mold. So when you think 50 ton presses, you're thinking like a little things like potentially on it or knobs and small pieces. A lot of our stuff is going to be running between like 70 to 150 ton presses, which are normal size, parts that you see all around you right now, like laptop and trying you it's usually going to be run those, maybe the broader parts may be higher tonnage.

Greg Paulsen: We talked about over a thousand times, we start talking about construction barriers and car bumpers and other stuff like a car bumper is actually two to 3000 ton press sometimes. So what's really important when we talk about size as we definitely do have a broad range of sizes, but tonnage is a better definition when you talk to injection molding because it is about what do we actually need to hold that machine closed to actually inject that material into the part and have that part come out successfully.

Greg Paulsen: Something I will note on the smaller size, a lot of times a 0.5 or like something that's less than half inch, half cube especially has a lot of details to it may start getting into this realm of micro molding and it's a completely different process than a standard mold. And it's something we want to definitely give carefully review to for this parts. All right.

Greg Paulsen: So the next questions that I have going on is it kind of follows up on this, like how big can you print? The next thing is, can you make a part in X? So can you make a part in inconel for example something that is not on the drop downs on our website. And I really wanted to get you guys' perspective. And Tommy, you can start again since I have you kind of in the bubble order here. But yeah, when someone asks you that question, what goes through your mind? And tell me a little bit about that whole process.

Tommy Lynch: Right. So when you are considering custom materials for 3D printing typically across most platforms you're going to have a limited set of materials that are manufactured for a certain type of printer. So for FDM, it will have to be a thermoplastic because it needs to start out as a hard plastic filament and then get melted as it gets extruded into the part. And then for SLA, since those materials are hardened with a UV light laser it will have to be a photo polymer that's activated by that UV light. And you can't just throw anything into the machine and start printing.

Tommy Lynch: And then on the metals end of the spectrum, it's typically just going to have to be something that is a weldable metal and something that someone has ground down to a grain size of 10 to 45 microns. And they have preset parameter sets in their machine so that they can successfully melt the materials. So, the main thing is you can't just build out of anything, but there's a lot of options. And so, the decision typically starts around how big is your part, what platform will it fit into? And then we will narrow down either the exact material that you need or that you're requesting or the closest suitable alternative based on the mechanical criteria.

Greg Paulsen: And I think a challenge with additive too is so conceptually, right? You can melt plastics, he can weld metals together. But when you're talking about something as a distributed service where I want to give a reasonable level of expectation to my customer about what they're going to receive, you really have to narrow down to a specific set of OEM qualified materials. So, that's original equipment manufacturer. So let's say EOS for example, who makes both plastic and metal laser, essentially machines that OEM material combined with those OEM parameters and that OEM machine give me a consistent result. So, if it's something available for these machines, we have a very large distributed network and we may be able to outsource that if it's not something that's already auto quoting on our side. Carbon filled nylon is a great example for that, or TPU materials, but if it's something that is experimental or still in the academic phase, it may not be something that a service like Xometry can offer just because it's not commercialized yet. So it really is still in the university lab. So it's a little different.

Greg Paulsen: And I know, I know Mark for you, I mean, it's about buying billets, right? So, if we're trying to get a beryllium copper, first off, if I ask you for beryllium copper, I don't see your camera right now, but did you just wince or, yeah, tell me a little about that

Mark Gallagher: A little bit. So, just we do have similar to the previous discussion about the size limits. We do have a lot of flexibility on the CNC machining side of things. Like you mentioned, we really just need to be able to find the material in a raw material stock size that's appropriate for machining. And that said, on our site, we do have a really, really, wide range of different materials that you can select for auto quoting. But that obviously does not encompass all of the options. So, if you do want something from a material that you don't see on our quoting site selection, you can just select the custom material, specify what you need in the notes or on your drawing, and then it comes into my team to manually review.

Mark Gallagher: We do definitely have extents on that as well. We really don't venture too deep into the world of ceramics for example. So, there are niche materials that we generally are cautious about working with, but at the same time we can be very, very, flexible in that. That also applies to things like if you have particular ASTM or AMS specifications about the material that you want to make sure are met, we can always review those for you. Or if you have specific temporary requirements or heat requirements and things like that. We're very, very flexible. The auto quoting site does capture the vast majority of that, but there are always edge cases that we can manually review for you.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. And it's almost the same way. And by the way, my name is Kyle Adams right now, just for ... I'm surroggating in while he's troubleshooting. It's the same thing with molding too. Actually injection molding has so many materials available to it. It is something because everything around you right now is probably molded, if it wasn't formed in like a stamp or sheet method is probably molded right now and there's a high variety of materials available. If you do have a specific resin, which is what we usually call plastic injection molding materials, oftentimes we can source it or help source an equivalent and give you that comparison. So that's what our expert engineers are there to review for.

Greg Paulsen: Even when we're selecting for quoting purposes, we kind of will bring you just to a broad range like polycarbonate or TPE for example. But once we do a kickoff after ordering, we do confirm the material with you to make sure that you're confident with the material moving forward. But if you do have something or even injection mode, if you can supply it we do have a dropdown option for customer supply specifically for molding because it's pretty common, especially when we work with larger companies.

Greg Paulsen: Going into that, best materials, it's the same thing. It's all about the CAD and application. For molding, we have application engineers and those who can work specifically with you and use their past experience to help guide you in certain material classes to make sure your parts are going successful.

Greg Paulsen: There's also a lot of things that have to do with geometry and dependencies with injection molding. And I was going to say that is especially true and I'm going to bring this full loop up for additive manufacturing or sometimes part size may dictate what materials are actually available just because of what platforming that you run on. And Tommy, how do you respond to the best material? I mean, that's usually your first go?

Tommy Lynch: Well, I think one thing that's worth revisiting on the previous question is just a little pro-tip in terms of, can you make the part in? I get that question daily and there are still regular occurrences where I will have to Google search 3D printed, insert material name, just to see if it's a thing.

Tommy Lynch: And then at that point we can narrow down what platforms it's actually available on. But through Xometry I will say that we have to my knowledge probably the largest selection of 3D printed materials and technologies for auto quoting available in the industry. And the criteria for that is having redundancy in the supply chain and being able to offer those readily available commercially available products. But we can venture outside of the box to get the more obscure things as well. And to Greg's point, when we're assessing best material, it always starts with how big is the part and let me look at the shape to determine if it will require internal support somewhere.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. I find that by the way a lot of times with additive you are substituting to hit an application specific thing just because you have materials that may be a little different than what, for example, the tens of thousands of materials available for injection mold. If you're looking to make something using carbon DLS, it's like, great, we have nine of these materials. This one's going to get you closest. I was actually just working with a customer yesterday on something that was a really, really soft class, like one where you could like stick your fingernail in and dent it. And what they were trying to get out of that was that high pliability. So we ended up moving with a rubber like Shore A68 material because it would actually hit the specific application requirements that they wanted to hit with that process, because there wasn't quite one that just was exactly one of them on the specs.

Greg Paulsen: So it's either that or something that was more like a flexible plastic and they want the lever like round. I'm going to keep on moving forward. Guys, please keep on submitting questions. We're looking to devote a lot of time for this Q&A. So, I'm going to talk about this because I don't know if we got Kyle back or not.

Greg Paulsen: Serena just gave me a frown and a nod. We love you man. So, by the way, just so you know, Serena and I are both in Bethesda, Mark's hanging out on the West coast, Tommy's in North Carolina and Kyle is in Florida. So, we are a national team right now and we're doing this live. So, what are the differences between a prototype and production molds? We get that a lot because when you select injection molding, it is a manual review process. And you can select what your estimated annual colony, colony's under a prototype and production definition.

Greg Paulsen: A lot of times I asked the question, what are your next six weeks look like for you? For like a rep prototype mode, what will the next six months look like for you, and when the next six years look like for you and understand the scope of this. Because sometimes if you do have a project that may require say 20,000 or 200,000 units, ultimately you may see still be in a state where you have high revision sensitivity to your project, which means that the first run, your first trial with your customer may not be the final revision. And that's where we do stuff like something in between a prototype and production, bridge towing a lot of times just gives you that final look. But the tool material and construction may be different.

Greg Paulsen: A lot of times prototype molds are made with high strength aluminum like 70, 75. There's even like a Q10 Aluminum, which is specific to injection molding that is used very frequently for making these tool sets, they can last a long time. It doesn't mean that the mold just explodes after 10,000 runs. But it is something that can wear out faster than, say, for example, a high strength steel mold would.

Greg Paulsen: You can also do more surface finish treatments like polishes and things with steel molds where aluminum may wear out sooner or may not be able to get to as high a polish. And the other thing I look at is if you have side actions, so features that require me to put something that slides in to create that feature as an injecting plastic and then move it out. It is cheaper for me to make a hand load, which is a stationary physical object that I put inside my mold, close it, eject out, opens up, it's still attached to my part. I pop it physically out of the part by hand, put it back in the mold, close it and run. But that does add an operator cost. So your per part is higher because I have to have someone standing there doing that task running through.

Greg Paulsen: If you have a production mold, you're usually adding automations to that. So you can do overnight runs, but it comes at extra expense. So, when I think about prototype and production, it's all about that trade off of do I need it sooner by taking some manual interventions in this or using a softer tool construction material for a lower price, a higher part price, but lower tool price or are you looking for this for long sustained runs where I need to automate everything and run into a production line. That's usually is like 50,000 plus units, is where mind usually sets to running more automations to that, so we can do lights out out activities.

Greg Paulsen: All right. So, that's really quick because I get that question so much that we just kept it as a standalone there. And the last question, I think this is the last question I have. Yeah. So get your questions ready. Here are the last questions that I have is, when should I choose 3D printing? And Tommy, I almost want you to lead this like a panelist here. Machining, casting, molding. When did you go through your printing over these different technologies?

Tommy Lynch: Right. When the most frequent request I would say, when someone is trying to take a traditionally CNC machined part and translate it over to 3D printing is because they see that it will be either a substantially lower cost or a substantially compressed lead time. And both of those things can happen. But when you're comparing 3D printing to CNC machining, CNC machining is going to be very absolute because you're cutting from a solid block of material and you have hard tooling that's doing very clean cuts on your surfaces. Whereas just the physics of the printing process, you're taking a raw powder or starting with liquid and then you're transforming it into a solid with, with heat or chemical reaction. And inherently number one, you're going to have stair stepping on the part due to the layering effect.

Tommy Lynch: And number two, just the physics of the process is there may be some movement during that transformation. So, whereas you may be easily able to achieve a plus or minus five thousands tolerance on a simple CNC machine part, building that in three D printing, we're probably not going to guarantee that on the first shot. And especially if it's in the Z direction where we have to stack the layers.

Greg Paulsen: And I was even going to say, especially if it's designed for CNC machining, and then put it through. So for example, a part that was designed for injection molding where it has Corrine and even while thicknesses may have more stable geometry moving directly from 3D printing beyond cosmetic requirements, right? So it's one of those trade offs as well as just is it designed for the process or optimal for our process. And I'm thinking metals. I think you and I both have seen designs that literally will tear themselves in half based off internal stresses because they have so much thickness to them because they were designed for machine inherently. And then here there's trying out metal without doing any modifications like lightweight and coring, adding holes or in lattice structure to it.

Tommy Lynch: That's right. I'll throw it out there that 95% of the time, if you tried to print a simple CNC machine part in metal, it's just not going to be a good fit. I have seen cases where customers try to print witness samples that are three inches by four inches on the footprint and up to three inches tall and it's just basically a metal brick and it cannot successfully build because the park either would tear itself away from the build plate due to internal stresses or it would crack on its own throughout the build process. So, you can print some really cool stuff. Just avoid the bricks.

Greg Paulsen: I was going to say, designed for die casting and even metal casting tend to also work really well as a one-to-one design, straight to 3D printer for metal processes just because they already kind of have holes around them that go hand in with additive.

Tommy Lynch: Yeah. They tend to work well with in terms of wall thickness and somewhat with internal stress. But the biggest limitation is going to be the support structures that are required to keep it anchored for build. And just as an example, I mean, you may have seen this part on our website, but when you've got these lattice work of stainless steel or aluminum spikes that are built into the flow path of some critical feature, you're not picking those out with your finger nail, you've got to get in there with power tools and you're probably going to mangle some critical features of your part. So, that's the big consideration around support.

Greg Paulsen: And I just...

Tommy Lynch: Yeah.

Greg Paulsen: I was going to say going on the pressing machine too, if you do have a customer thread, so I just happen to have this kind of cap piece here that's been CNC machined. If you need to grow in that thread for example, customer thread, customer helix, sometimes it's better or actually a lot of times it's better to look at machining for that. Because even in some of our higher resolution prints it's very easy to have one little defect or feature that is inherent in the process. It's not necessarily bad, it's just something that may exist as a side of the side of that process as it runs can give you a bad day on this threads there.

Tommy Lynch: Right. The constraint of the technology is that you can typically expect somewhere in the neighborhood of a plus or minus 5,000 tolerance just as a reference point. And then you're starting with a surface finish that might be closer to a 200 microinch Ra. So it has that textured surface and in the case of threaded features, most threads aren't designed to have that much clearance to allow for that much of a tolerance. So, I will always caveat anytime I see threads that they may not be fully functional as bill.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. And we can go into this more in Q&A. I actually wanna move to our Q&A in about a minute here. The cosmetic requirements are a very big difference, especially on a molding or machine parts. So cosmetic plus tolerance tends to still kind of in these parts that have been traditionally manufactured via machine, so subtractive manufacturing. Additive, you can do some really unique things, since it's on post-processing and it's getting better and better every year. But it's definitely a trade off if you're used to injection mold pieces and your expectation is something, it looks injection molded or machined. There are only a few processes and additive that would give you that look plus those end-use mechanical properties. And that's something where we say here, and we're like, okay, unless we file, our quantities and our team is excellent at helping you decide on this trade offs of when to choose what and when, because sometimes it is 3D print for now, but molding makes sense. Add quantity, simplified and so we've seen this type of cases come out.

Greg Paulsen: So please we're about to move the Q&A. Let's go submit some questions. I also want to remind our folks at, I showed you on our webpage where there was during the demo, but we have design guides, FAQs, I'm writing more guides for it. We're writing a blog. Serena does case study. So, if you are a Xometry customer and you want to show off something cool that we've worked with together for you, talk to Serena. We love doing case studies, SolidWorks add-in, add-in inventor, add-in helps you use the tools that we're providing right in your design.

Greg Paulsen: You could actually prototype pricing, you could see how much a feature changes the price of your part. It's really cool. And of course, we also have our live chat support. So, we have is a catchall email. So anything from a purchase order to a question, that's a great place to go.

Greg Paulsen: Once you start using Xometry, you'll get a dedicated account representative, which will be a go-to for back and forth on anything from setting up sales, setting you guys up for terms or tax exempt or anything else that you need. And right on our website, we have our chat widget there to help you out.

Greg Paulsen: So Serena.

Serena Ngoh: Yes. So don't forget to use your coupon code instant. And if you don't want to write it down and you don't remember it now, never fear, we'll be sending an email tomorrow with this recording and the coupon code. So, use this code to get $50 off your first Xometry order until the end of November.

Greg Paulsen: Everybody. I'm very proud of this gift that I have 45 minutes for the presentation, so, yeah.

Mark Gallagher: Just.

Greg Paulsen: Whoa, Whoa. Listen, man, this is not a fighting.

Serena Ngoh: All right, we have some questions to get to. Okay. So, first question here from David, can you do extrusion molding and in what materials and to what length?

Greg Paulsen: Oh, man. All right.

Mark Gallagher: Sure. Yeah, I can take this one. So, we're always adding kind of new processes as beta and extrusion, specifically metal extrusion is something that we do offer as a beta process that we can put together. We can go out and RFQ, our partner network for you and work to get an extrusion coated for you. Obviously, that's all of the nuance associated with that process. So you're going to have the cost for the dye. You're probably going to have a minimum total length order.

Serena Ngoh: In terms of materials, right now we're probably generally focused on non-ferrous metallic extrusion would be what we're most likely to be able to provide you a quote on. But if you do have a project like that, you can email in and it will get reviewed by our applications engineers.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah, I'd even recommend if you're looking at a plastic extrusion as well, reaching out to support or talking to our team. We're exploring that all the time, but a lot of our focus for injection molding is that piece part molding versus we're not going to be a straw manufacturer. There's probably individual entities that could do that with much higher throughput for you. But we have explored it in the past. And what I like about us is because we work on this network approach, something I understand is, we always have a few other ideas that are like, we've built relationships over life. So if we can't do it, a lot of times we may know someone or have a reference of someone who can. So, I always like to think of Xometry as the first place you go to ask for a custom manufacturing project because we're going to let you know when it's a good fit and we're also going to let you know when it's something that's out of our scope and hopefully we have someone to that can help you out on that. And I know Tommy and I have done that frequently with some our medical device customers for additive who need ISO 1345 and things like that.

Serena Ngoh: All right, great. Next question from Raynard. How can we get samples of 3D printing materials to allow customers to make better materials selections for component builder?

Greg Paulsen: Yes. So, I mean, obviously we have an instant coatings site and got very competitive rates. I've been working with Tommy and the team. Actually, I got my first piece in because I am a Xometry customer to have a part that we're making for a 3D printing sample cube. Keep an eye out for that. This is a sneak preview. This is actually an insert to this cool little device that we're making here. But this is to be accurate, 60, but we're starting to explore that and make physical goods. Right now we don't have, it's just samples on hand to, send out, but it's something where often I can tell you this like from experience, often just doing a one off in that process can tell you a lot more than a little chip or tile can. When it comes to 3D printing cause it's usually a feature that you want to be successful, not just like the swap of material.

Mark Gallagher: We do have a really, really nice photo gallery of all of our different 3D printed materials on the Xometry resources site.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Mark for that. Because I added that and I completely forgot to tell everybody. All right.

Serena Ngoh: Yes. And if you do want us to follow up with resources, feel free to reach out to us. For any questions we don't get to, our panelists will be reaching out to you guys to follow up as well after this.

Greg Paulsen: Keep on asking questions. Yeah.

Serena Ngoh: Yeah. All right. Here's the next one. What's the right technology to prototype car body parts such as Fender and what has a bill volume large enough for a Sedan Fender size and also what material would you recommend?

Tommy Lynch: I can handle that one. We get regular requests for large parts such as, I had mentioned that with FDM that that tends to be better suited for the larger automotive applications just because it does have the largest build volume. My only caveat is that when we start getting into something the size of a Sedan Fender, you're still constrained to that 36 by 24 inch footprint. So, the only way that you're going to get to that full size is we're going to have to start chopping it up into multiple pieces. And then when you chop it up into multiple pieces, you may have an inconsistent alignment of the layer lines when you go to fit everything back together. So, there's going to be a visible sane and then end up with a part that's this just got multiple joined locations.

Greg Paulsen: Yes. And I know we've done a price quote before like that. And I mean if you're ready, if you've got a Bondo of paint, it may not be an issue on your end. But it's definitely when you make that weld line, we usually make puzzle or dovetail type connections for these pieces. And you really do see that scene going down where you connect those parts together.

Tommy Lynch: And typically the best option will be FDM for these types of applications just due to the durability. But as Greg mentioned, it is the courses feature resolution, which you can see on our surface finish gallery. And the only way that you're going to get it close to looking like a nice body panel is to really put a lot of Bondo on there and finish the Bondo and then paint it. And it's a lot of work and it will not be cheap.

Greg Paulsen: I just wanted to show off. Like this is the largest part I have near me right now. But this is a thing of your school desk chair here. This is the FDM for you, print, single print here, so you can use some pretty impressive stuff with this. But just understand, I mean, it's that once you go over certain sizes we oftentimes, even say lay down with X, Y, we may recommend splitting that out.

Tommy Lynch: And just out of curiosity, do you recall the price on that chair?

Greg Paulsen: I do not, but I'm sure it was around a thousand.

Tommy Lynch: Yeah, I was going to say, I think that that was just a little over a thousand dollars just to give everybody a frame of reference.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah.

Serena Ngoh: All right. And speaking about pricing, is it possible to get a test part without paying full price? And if something's too small and they want to remake the file and then pay full price after that for the remade part, what are the options there?

Greg Paulsen: So we're talking 3D printing?

Serena Ngoh: It was not specified.

Tommy Lynch: It says printing.

Greg Paulsen: I do. Okay.

Tommy Lynch: Yeah.

Serena Ngoh: Printing.

Tommy Lynch: If we're printing one-off parts to get a test print, in that scenario that's always a tough one because I know that there is some ambiguity with the tolerances on the 3D printing process and it may not be completely right on the first try. And ultimately once you do get it right, you're going to order higher quantities. And in those scenarios, the only thing that I can recommend is that you will see some benefit by building multiple iterations at the same time in terms of economies of scale. But it's really difficult for us to extend any sort of discount on the first attempt of a new part because it's still full price for us. And we don't really know how many attempts is going to take to get to the final quantity. So, typically I'll say that we will do the testing at full price and then when we get to the intended optimal outcome, that's the point where we can really extend a nice discount. Because now we have a proven track record of success. And we can really sharpen the pencil on the pricing at that point.

Greg Paulsen: And this is something with custom manufacturing and I do want to note that we have honestly some of the best pricing, if not the best pricing on some of these commodity processes. Like we just discounted the FDM for certain projects by 40% with the economy option, our MultiJet Fusion is scales really well. Our SLS for engineered level SLS with high accuracy to it is I think one of the best values that you get anywhere within the United States. So, it's not like this stuff could be prohibitively expensive either. But something to note is that when we do custom manufacturing, oftentimes it's the first time in the universe that your part has ever existed.

Greg Paulsen: So, there may be nuances per process being done, but when you talk about scaling, especially with additive manufacturing, the scaling usually comes with quantity or with a machine type, like a laser powdered fusion platform that actually has other parts for other projects nested within it running at the same time. So you're basically renting that space. But custom manufacturing is unique in that way where one offs whether it is a one off before production or one off to be a one off, they're in the same state at that time, but you can't benefit from economies of scale, and you even see how that prices out. On our website, it'll automatically add discounts and deduct as you add margins.

Serena Ngoh: Okay. And do you sell parts to market outside of the US?

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. So we do have international customers. The biggest caveat is that most are manufacturing, like 99% of it is going to be domestic. I know Xometry has eyes on expansion to other marketplaces. But the challenge usually comes in should be shipping duties and fees.

Greg Paulsen: So very often there's if you are an international customer, if you have a domestic hub, maybe we shipped directly to that domestic hub. But sometimes that means providing an account if it's a FedEx or DHL account and working with our shipping team to make sure that we know where it's going. We know the purpose of the part, was very important for export and that's everything's worked through before we're ready to ship. So, usually a case manager will reach out and work with you directly if you had an international address.

Serena Ngoh: All right, we have a couple of us project specific questions here. We'll go ahead and answer them. What method would you recommend as the most economic way to drill 30,001 eight inch holes on 115 inch diameter dish head?

Serena Ngoh: And this dish head is made out of Chrome metal a Pauline metal with 0.375 inch thickness.

Greg Paulsen: All right, so that would I think punch press like I think you're talking sheet metal and you do a punch. So even a laser, I'm assuming like a huge array, almost like a mesh. And you said the thickness is a quarter inch, something like that?

Serena Ngoh: 0.375.

Greg Paulsen: 0.375. So, even that may not be able to be punched out. Here's the thing, when we talked about these high throughput machines that'll do profile cutting like a waterjet, a plasma cutter for something about that thick, that's a little thick for a laser cutter there. You are still doing a single operation at a time and going through, so the scalability for 30,000 holes is still like just time plus time plus time plus time. And it adds a lot to that. If you decide that you'll it a stack of small panels, you may be able to do these these types of sheet metal fabrications that are a little punch presses that have a specific dye that would have pops down and cuts that feature to what other shapes.

Greg Paulsen: So sometimes that can fit, it doesn't need to be a circle. And if you get on those, it's still timeless per time, but that T-value is significantly less than a [inaudible 00:55:50] with a water jet or plasma. But just understand that it's definitely a manual quotes submit on our side to take a look at that because you're really looking at that part owning the machine, plus possibly per days without custom fabrication or even a custom process like a product line built around that part.

Serena Ngoh: All right. And we have a 3D printing question here. Do you provide consultation on reducing supports for small 3D printed parts? And what is some general advice you have on that?

Tommy Lynch: We do. I mean, your file is uploaded to the website. You're going to be assigned to an account representative and they are definitely your biggest internal advocate. Typically, they will be reaching out. If your part is something that is not auto quoting, then it will come into the engineering queue for answering the questions or otherwise you can reach out to your account rep and they will escalate it through the proper channels as well. But I'd say that me and the team we're doing that every hour of every day is helping folks optimize their design for whichever 3D printing method is going to be best suited for their application.

Greg Paulsen: Absolutely. We have an excellent team. It's not, it's not just Tommy. We have an additive team and just like Mark, Mark has a team here and Kyle has a team behind us. We are ... Just something to note in that, I'm just so proud to work with these folks here. We have experts in almost every manufacturing field working at Xometry. And then we have experts in other things like software, data science, computational geometry, supply chain management, global supply chains. So, it's a really unique perspective that we have on manufacturing because we look at parts, not just from the discreet operations we need to make them, but the supply chain and even in order to make like whatever your project end goals are successful to that. But I really like digging in with the technical team and learning from them. And we are in a lot of ways, consultants to our customers.

Serena Ngoh: Yes. Awesome. And do any of Xometry's manufacturing partners perform destructive testing on 3D printed parts?

Mark Gallagher: All questions to you Tommy, you're getting a lot of them, man.

Greg Paulsen: I want to say, I mean it, not really. I'll say no to that. Usually, that is up to the customer. I'll tell you an example from a medical prototypes that we've done before where it was decided that what we were best in the world at was building with metal 3D printers, building the net shape for them. But our testing was actually for the customers side of things. So, we were providing the net shape and we provided a traceability. So, what materials, what's the lot number for that material, what machine it was? We saved the information to build orientation to it. We saved how we post-process it, how we cleaned it, if we used solvents to clean it. So we provided the documentation and traceability to that part to guide it saying, this part was made with this process. And what they did was then take that for whatever secondary testing, or in this case was cytotoxin and other things like that for medical devices.

Greg Paulsen: But a lot of times that's actually up to the customer on the qualification of that part because we are not engineering that design. We're not designing that part. So, our goal is to make a successful part hand in hand with you as the engineering expert.

Tommy Lynch: One just really quick comment is you can submit specimens that we can provide traceability for, but we do rely on the customer to perform the actual testing. And the reason for that is that we work with multiple suppliers. Everybody has their own preferred test specimens, whether it's cylindrical tensile bars, dog bones, and they have set ups for those specific samples. And we've just found it best for reporting purposes that the customer submits the specimen that they're most familiar with and then test it per their standard processes.

Serena Ngoh: All right, so it is three and we're just about at time. I'm going to ask one more question since we got Kyle back here.

Mark Gallagher: Hi Kyle, are you here?

Kyle Adams: I am back. I apologize for the technical difficulties I experienced.

Greg Paulsen: I almost shaved my head.

Serena Ngoh: All right. So where are molds manufactured and can you make a mold in China and run it in the US?

Kyle Adams: Yeah, we have both options. We can manufacture here domestically in the US we can manufacture tools and parts in China, we could also manufacture the tools in China and move it here for production. A lot of that's going to depend on the requirements of the program, part size, those types of requirements. But absolutely.

Greg Paulsen: Oh well, what is the benefit of discuss how long for me is the question of moved to maiden to me in China, random ethically, I've seen that a lot with just manufacturing in general for injection molding in China. But what is the benefit that you usually see them? What's benefit really for the customer when that occurs?

Kyle Adams: Obviously shipping from China to the US gets a little expensive. So, if you're shipping boxes and boxes and boxes of parts, that shipping starts adding up if you're running a long-term, long running program. So if that's going to be the case, you can get the benefit of costs of may manufacturing the tool in China, bring it here in the US, and it can be running domestically. You may be paying a little bit more per part, but the long-term savings of not having to ship and deal with tariffs and customs and all that kind of fund stuff can, can outweigh that.

Greg Paulsen: And I know some of our tier-long BMW supply chain does that to essentially save on costs and making professional tool for these production tools. And at the same time we're producing parts that are operating the thing or even worse, getting out a freighter and taking six weeks to get here. So, I think that is actually a really viable option, especially when you look at production tooling or any tooling that requires a certain level of quality standard, so for example, if you're doing tier one [inaudible 01:02:42].

Kyle Adams: Now, we'll say that it's not necessarily easy to do that sometimes, but as long as it's properly planned, it's a good option.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah.

Serena Ngoh: All right. Well, thank you so much to our panel of engineers here at Xometry for answering everyone's questions and providing their expertise.

Serena Ngoh: Thank you all for attending our webinar. Watch out for an email with this recording, the coupon code. And happy quoting and ordering.

Greg Paulsen: Yeah. Guys, please go on. [inaudible 01:03:14] coupon code. Try our website. Just check your prices right now. But really, I appreciate it. It's always great to work with this team. So, I had fun too. All right.

Serena Ngoh: Thank you.

Greg Paulsen: Have a great day.

Serena Ngoh: Bye.

Serena Ngoh - Xometry Contributor
Serena Ngoh
I write about Xometry and all things manufacturing. You might also see me hosting webinars, designing infographics, producing videos, and working directly with customers to tell their manufacturing success stories.

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