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Case Study: Xometry Partnership Allows SiMT to Give Back to Students and Local Economy

Xometry manufacturing partner, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology, uses profits from Xometry jobs to help fund student programs and close a widening skills gap.

Serena Ngoh - Xometry Contributor
By Serena Ngoh
October 9, 2020
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Xometry works with the Additive Manufacturing Lab at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology. Since joining the Xometry Partner Network in September 2018, the SiMT has completed 326 Xometry jobs to earn over 180 thousand dollars. In turn, the college invests its profits into students at the college, who go on to take highly skilled manufacturing jobs in South Carolina and across the U.S.

Xometry’s Manufacturing Partner Network is made up of over 3,000 machine shops, fabricators, and 3D printing bureaus globally. Among these partners, some exceed expectations in their commitment to quality.

The Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (the SiMT) in Florence, South Carolina is one of Xometry's top Partners and received a 2018 Xometry Excellence in Manufacturing Award. The SiMT is a division of Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) and maintains a nearly perfect score in Xometry’s partner evaluation system. Since joining the Xometry Partner Network in September 2018, the college has completed over 300 Xometry jobs. “We are elated to receive this honor and are looking forward to working hard to repeat this outcome for years to come,” stated Edward Bethea, FDTC President.

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The 2018 Xometry Excellence in Manufacturing Award earned by SiMT

But the story of the SiMT’s successful manufacturing partnership with Xometry does not end there.

All the profits from the manufacturing work the SiMT takes on through its Advanced Machining Center and the Additive Manufacturing Lab go toward assistance and resources for its students. SiMT gets approximately 70% of its 3D printing jobs from Xometry, using the profits from these jobs to help the school scale the volume and scope of student programs.

The Additive Manufacturing Lab’s partnership with Xometry is part of an overarching business model that—in place of declining state funds—provides a revenue stream back to the college and its students. Six different business units, which comprise the Advanced Machining Center, the Additive Manufacturing Lab, the Gould Business Incubator, the Conference Center, the 3D VR Interactive Production Studio, and the Social Media Listening Center, serve local and regional growing businesses and community members with product prototyping, staff training, marketing, and more.

The [lab technicians] tell us their Xometry rating every day. It gives them something to strive for and something to be proud of.
Tressa Gardner,
The SiMT

The SiMT’s successful partnership with Xometry lies partly in the college’s ability to recruit the best manufacturing talent directly from its own pool of graduates. “Typically, we’ll invite really exemplary students to work in the lab,” says Tressa Gardner, the Associate Vice President at the SiMT. “They often stay on to work full-time after they graduate.” Gardner adds that these students usually stay because the college provides robust professional growth opportunities and that the college’s mission—to grow local businesses and the manufacturing industry—resonates strongly with them.

It’s this model of nurture and growth that allows the SiMT to develop skilled manufacturing workers and hold its talent close. And when Xometry jobs appear in the SiMT’s online job board, these young workers eagerly take on the work to apply their newly learned manufacturing expertise.

While the SiMT can accept a variety of jobs based on their manufacturing capabilities, they currently only take 3D printing jobs from Xometry. But when machining jobs come to the SiMT that neither the college nor local machinists can take, Gardner is grateful the SiMT can refer the customer to Xometry. “The good thing is that we’re tied into all these resources [through Xometry’s network],” says Gardner, adding, “When we lose [SiMT] workers to in-industry companies, we can fall back on Xometry to take on our overcapacity jobs.”

By providing the local community with manufacturing services and business growth tools, the SiMT can better fund tuition, training equipment, and programs for students. And by churning out a pool of talent, the SiMT and FDTC provide skilled labor for the state’s burgeoning manufacturing industry. Seated within the region are global corporations such as Sonoco Products, WestRock, Otis Elevator, Beneteau Boats, and Honda of South Carolina Mfg, who often look to the college to fill a widening skills gap in the manufacturing sector. With a 100% graduate placement rate among many of the degrees offered at FDTC, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology fulfills its two-fold mission to grow the manufacturing workforce and support the local economy.

When an FDTC graduate recently went to work at Xometry, Gardner remarked, “Oh, so you’re staying in the family!"

Xometry is proud to partner with the SiMT to not only provide high-quality custom parts to customers worldwide but also participate in a business model that has far-reaching implications for young workers and the manufacturing industry in South Carolina.

Gardner says her favorite thing about being a Xometry Partner is the collaborativeness and professionalism of the relationship. “We wouldn’t hesitate to call and say, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity to make some parts. Can you help us with this?’ And vice versa. Not all businesses you deal with are like that.”

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.