The Complete Xometry Production Guide
Choosing the Right Process for Your Custom Parts
CNC Machining offers unparalleled precision for producing metal and plastic parts.
Sheet Metal Fabrication
Sheet Metal produces durable, end-use metal parts that are fabricated to your specifications.
SLA is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces extremely accurate and high resolution parts.
Metal 3D Printing (DMLS)
DMLS uses metal powders and precision lasers to quickly and accurately create complex metal parts.
HP Multi Jet Fusion (HP MJF)
HP MJF is a scalable 3D printing technology that produces durable parts at low costs.
Carbon Digital Light Synthesis (Carbon DLS)
Carbon DLS can directly print small parts in urethanes and epoxies at scale.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces highly accurate and durable parts.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
FDM is a 3D printing technology widely known for its speed, accuracy, and competitive cost.
PolyJet offers one of the most advanced industrial 3D printing solutions available.
Injection Molding provides top performance and cost efficiency for high-volume production parts.
Urethane casting provides end-use, rigid or flexible plastic parts with production-level quality.
Lightning-Fast Finishing Services
A world-class network of finishing suppliers at your fingertips.
Xometry is the industry leader in custom, quick-turn CNC machining services for rapid prototyping and production parts. Our online Instant Quoting Engine gives you a CNC machining quote within seconds. Then we make your machined metal or plastic parts and get them to your door in as few as 2 days. We inspect the parts and guarantee their quality.
Our massive partner network means that whatever your part, we have a shop and a machine that can make it. We integrate seamlessly with over 3,000 vetted manufacturing partners in the U.S. including ITAR qualified facilities and we are ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certified.
With such a high volume of qualified shops and over 40 certified materials available, using Xometry takes the guesswork out of CNC part sourcing. Our partners support the latest in CNC machining and turning processes, can support a high level of part complexity, and provide exceptional surface finishes. We can also machine and inspect to any 2D drawing, always ensuring you have the CNC machined parts you need, at-quality and on time.
Given the cost of material and setup, CNC Machining can be more expensive for smaller quantities of parts. Certain features, such as those that cannot be reached by the milling tool, cannot be produced. Sharp interior corners must have a radius of at least 0.0156”, and square interior corners will have a corner radius of 1/8 times the depth of the pocket applied.
Sheet metal fabrication is the process of forming parts from a metal sheet. 3D CAD files are converted into machine code, which controls a machine to precisely cut and form the sheets into the final part. Typical forming tools are brakes, punches, and dies which can form angular bends and features.
Installing inserts, such as PEM inserts, is standard practice along with welding and finishing services. Sheet metal parts are known for their durability, which makes them great for end-use applications (e.g. chassis). Parts used for low volume prototypes and high volume production runs are most cost-effective due to large initial setup and material costs.
Our custom sheet metal services offer a cost-effective and on-demand solution for your manufacturing needs. Fabrication services range from low-volume prototype to high-volume production runs with significant cost savings.
Sheet metal may be expensive for lower quantities of parts due to tooling, setup and material costs. Sheet metal fabrication cannot be used for parts with non-uniform or large wall thicknesses. Sharp interior corners are incompatible with this method, as the sheets are bent with machinery that has rounded corners.
Stereolithography (SLA) is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces extremely accurate and high-resolution parts that are capable of being used directly in end-use, low-volume production, or for rapid prototyping.
Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process that focuses an ultraviolet (UV) light on a vat of photopolymer resin. It offers higher resolution printing than many other 3D printing technologies, allowing customers to print parts with fine details and surface finishes. Stereolithography 3D printing is a highly-versatile platform for making custom parts in prototype and production settings, often acting as a stand-in for injection-molded plastic parts.
Xometry offers both standard and high-resolution options for fine detail parts, and can also print larger sized parts and products, offering up to a 29" inch build area. In addition, Xometry's manufacturing partner network allows us to offer a larger variety of materials than other 3D printing companies - we offer a wide range of both Accura and Somos brand materials.
Long and broad are subject to uneven curing, which can lead to warping. They are also more susceptible to distortion caused by heat and moisture which can happen during post-processing or shipping. As with most 3D Printing processes, there is a risk of especially small features not resolving. Be sure to meet the minimum suggested dimensions to avoid resolution errors.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is a metal 3D printing technology that builds prototype and production metal parts from a CAD file using a laser to selectively fuse a fine metal powder in either stainless steel or aluminum materials. A DMLS machine is capable of producing highly complex features and all-in-one assemblies using metal materials that would be difficult to achieve with subtractive manufacturing techniques. DMLS is often used as a substitution for aluminum or steel metal casting.
Our Direct Metal Laser Sintering metal 3D printing service typically offers build volumes up to 250 x 250 x 325 mm, but we may be able to accommodate larger part volumes upon request in the quote (See our Manufacturing Standards for more details). Find out the cost of the parts you need using Direct Metal Laser Sintering or compare the costs of DMLS vs. SLS. Get a free instant quote today.
DMLS cannot produce the smooth surface finish of a machined part. Pieces can be manually polished, but the process is time-consuming and makes tolerances difficult to maintain. Parts require support structure for overhangs greater than 45 degrees from vertical. Fillets are great to allow surfaces to be self-supporting and grant more freedom of design.
HP Multi Jet Fusion is a unique 3D printing process that is vastly different from the others on offer. However, it is no less precise, capable of creating high-quality parts up to 10X faster than competing 3D printing processes, allowing you to get to market faster.
Like all powder-based 3D printing processes, HP Multi Jet Fusion builds parts layer by layer, using a fusing agent and heat to set each layer before moving onto the next. In the more traditional 3d printing processes — such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA), or Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) — each part is imaged, layer by layer, with a single laser beam. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion works a bit more like a traditional ink-jet printer with a printhead that deposits the material, and then a fusing agent, across the entire build plate in one pass, allowing for improved economies of scale when printing in bulk.
HP Multi Jet Fusion is an extremely exciting, robust and flexible addition to Xometry’s manufacturing capabilities. It’s excellent for prototyping, small-batch production runs or as a bridge process to injection molding, allowing you to get a feel for how your parts will perform with minimal upfront costs.
Smoothing surface requires sanding, machining, or other post-processing. Currently, the materials are not available in colors. Larger parts tend to suffer from thermal stress which causes warping or unpredictable shrink.
Carbon® uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce products with end-use durability, resolution and surface finish. This technology, along with Carbon’s custom liquid resins, unlocks new business opportunities and product designs previously impossible, including mass customization and on-demand inventory. The Carbon platform enables companies to bring products to market that were never thought possible.
Carbon bridges, and sometimes substitutes, for processes like Urethane Casting and Injection Molding service production, because the materials are urethane-based or epoxy-based, giving excellent mechanical properties. There are even elastomer and silicone resins that outperform most additive manufactured rubber-like materials.
The platform size is limited, being most suitable for parts under 6” x 4” x 4” and the best economy-of-scale with multiple parts below 3” x 2” x 1”. The support material may leave more pronounced bumps where removed. Single-unit costs are higher than other 3D printing processes.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces highly accurate and durable parts that are capable of being used directly in end-use, low-volume production, or for rapid prototyping. SLS is one of the most inexpensive options for industrial 3D printing services because it can build parts in bulk without support structure requirements.
An additive manufacturing layer technology, Selective Laser Sintering involves the use of a high power laser (for example, a carbon dioxide laser) to fuse small particles of plastic powders into a mass that has a desired three-dimensional shape. The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a 3-D digital description of the part (for example from a CAD file or scan data) on the surface of a powder bed. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by one layer thickness, a new layer of material is applied on top, and the selective laser sintering process is repeated until the part is completed.
Smoothing of the surface requires sanding or machining. Materials are limited to unfilled and glass-filled nylon. Larger parts tend to suffer from thermal stress which causes warping or unpredictable shrink.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology widely known for its speed, accuracy, and competitive cost. An FDM machine precisely extrudes melted plastic filament to create a part. Parts are very rigid, especially compared to Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and can be lightweighted through multiple infill options.
When ordering through Xometry, you get the benefits of Industrial 3D Printing without the costs associated with buying and maintaining entire machines. Combined with our Instant Quoting Engine, our online 3D Printing service can turn around your FDM parts in as little as 1 day.
Additionally, Xometry's FDM solution offers large build volumes, a variety of colors, and a diverse selection of production-grade thermoplastics — from ABS to Polycarbonate to Ultem. Our full list of plastic material capabilities is constantly being expanded and updated to fit your unique manufacturing needs.
Bead thickness causes FDM to sweat the small details, and have noticeable layer stepping. As a result, small holes, text, very narrow pegs and lips may not resolve (for these types of features we recommend SLS or PolyJet).
PolyJet 3D is a 3D printing technology known for its customizable material properties and excellent surface finish. It works by jetting UV curable resin onto a build tray in a process that is somewhat similar to inkjet printing. PolyJet 3D printing offers one of the most advanced industrial 3D printing solutions available, producing parts with incredible precision and speed. It also supports the ability to print in multiple materials at once and can simulate rubber materials and overmolds.
Xometry’s massive U.S.-based partner network offers a range of higher-end PolyJet machines to support your unique manufacturing requirements, including many multi-material overmold options. Combined with our Instant Quoting Engine, our online 3D Printing service can turn around your Polyjet printing prototypes in as little as 1-2 days, delivering high-quality PolyJet printed parts quickly and at excellent quality.
PolyJet materials tend to be more fragile than FDM or SLS parts. We recommend using it for fit-checks, “feel” checks, trade-show models, and other uses that do not involve harsh environments or impact. Small features on PolyJet parts pose a high risk of breaking off during post-processing. We recommend adding drafts, fillets, and ribs to strengthen the part. Thin and narrow sections of a part are most vulnerable to break. Support material is needed for certain features, which could reduce the freedom of design because removal of support may risk breaking fragile features.
Xometry delivers high-quality, on-demand injection molded parts. Injection molding is the cheapest process to make a plastic part at scale by offering consistent quality for mid-to-high volume manufacturing. Molding also has the highest variety of materials, colors, and configurations compared to CNC machining or even 3D printing. Beyond materials, injection molded parts can have custom cosmetics, polishes, or surface textures.
Xometry takes a “have it your way” approach to molding. We specialize in complex projects, typically requiring side action or hand loaded inserts. Our goal is to provide a long term solution, moving beyond rapid prototyping, with dedicated project managers and engineering experts to communicate through all project stages from design to production.
Shrinkage varies based on material and must be compensated for in the mold. Cost-prohibitive in small quantities, Injection Molding is best for low-volume production runs. The molded part will pick up even the smallest imperfection in the mold surfaces, so additional finishing of the mold may be required.
Urethane casting provides end-use, rigid or flexible plastic parts with production-level quality. Built without expensive and time-consuming hard tooling, our urethane casting process uses a 3D printed master pattern and silicone molds to deliver high-quality, short-run parts up to 30” long. The finished dimensions of urethane cast parts depend on the accuracy of the master model, part geometry and casting material. In general, a shrinkage rate of + 0.15% is expected.
Xometry supports any urethane casting process, material or finish you could need. Our extensive network of SLA and Polyjet 3D printing partners means we can handle everything from the master pattern and mold-making, to the production casting of parts and custom finishes. With more than 4,000 vetted manufacturing partner facilities across the U.S., Xometry is able to pair your part order with the machine shop best suited to handle the quality, surface finishes, performance, and color requirements you need — resulting in competitive prices and ideal lead times for your projects.
Quantities are limited by both time and durability of the silicone molds, due to the fact that parts need to solidify and can only be manufactured one at a time. Shrinkage may be unpredictable depending on the geometry of the part.