Best sheet metal fabricators with online quotes

In this study we compared ourselves against Xometry and Rapid by Protolabs, the two largest companies for obtaining online quotes. We gathered information based upon price, lead time, amount time for buyer to create the request, time for the quote to be generated, and made estimates for using the services at scale. Since we are inherently bias in favor of ourselves we've provided all the information including the CAD models and drawings we quoted so that the study may be repeated. From the data we've made recommendations on what services we believe are best used under different conditions.

Rapid, ProtoLabs


Ai Machineshop
HQ Location Maple Plain, MN Gaithersburg, MD Kalamazoo, MI
Revenue 2017 (millions) $45 $20 $0
Price for 1 of each part $1061 $725 $274
Price for 10 of each part $1561 $1908 $857
Price for 100 of each part $5901 $14,723 $5565
Lead Time for 1 of each part 10, 10, 10 days 4, 5, 9 days 14, 14, 14 days
Buyer - Average time to create request 2mins 2mins 5secs 45secs
Shop - Time to generate quote 4hours 20secs 11secs
*Buyer - Time to create request for 100 parts 58min 67min 45sec
*Cost to have buyer quote 100,000 parts $63.2k $72.2k $813
Notes: The (*) denotes estimates based on collected data. Buyer cost is based on $65/hr.

Rapid Mfg., Protolabs - Review & Recommendations

The service hasn't moved to being fully online, after making the request the quotes are provided via email and can't be adjusted or modified once received. In the end it's not that much different from traditional email quoting except the service does return quotes promptly. It is clear from the data that when purchasing a single prototype the service is expensive in fact it is 46% higher than Xometry and 387% higher than Ai Machineshop. On the other hand we see that as volumes increase the service becomes increasingly competitive. While Rapid projects itself as a leader in sheet metal prototypes and production from this study if cost is a factor we recommend using the company strictly for production.

Xometry - Review & Recommendations

Xometry has been a faced growth company and has been doubling its revenue year over year. Xometry is the leader in fully online quotes and has proven that clients want quotes now and they are tired of waiting for them. Despite the cost savings one might expect to see due to the company have decreased overhead from the automatic quoting engine along along with reduced errors in miss quoting Xometry's price remained high through the study for prototypes and low volume production. The company is really able to turn parts around quickly. We recommend using Xometry when you need sheet metal prototypes really fast.

Ai Machineshop - Review & Recommendations

We built Ai Machineshop because we wanted to make it as easy as possible to obtain custom parts. While we aren't trying to be the absolute cheapest we are trying to be the most valuable all around service. Time is valuable and while Rapid, and Xometry have made it possible to get small orderes of prototype parts quickly and without to much work on the buyer. However, if one has to quote a lot of different parts for a large project, quoting using one of these services could cost quite sometime. There is almost always someone who will do work cheaper so while it is not our intention to undercut prices and be the absolute cheapest service we've made it much more affordable to get prototypes while making it much less work.

Please join the discussion!

We want to know why you use the fabrication source that you use. Will you please share your valuable thoughts and ideas and join the discussion r/AiMachineshop