How SIMT and Xometry Are Working Together To Build Next-Gen Manufacturers

Dec. 23, 2020
The team is ending the year with an episode that spotlights a positive partnership which helps bridge the gaps between manufacturers and their customers, but also helps encourage STEM education.

In this episode of the Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce podcast, Alexandra Ditoro, speaks with with Greg Paulsen, director of application engineering at Xometry, and Tressa Gardner, associate vice president of Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMT). In their discussion, they talk about the SIMT-Xometry partnership and how it's helping to train the next generation of manufacturers interested in STEM careers. 

Transcript

Alexandra: Hi, I'm Alexandra Ditoro. Today I'm joined with Greg Paulsen and Tressa Gardner. The Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, also known as SIMT, is a manufacturing trade school that uses Xometry for both training and revenue, which is dedicated to funding student's tuition. Thanks for joining me today, Greg and Tressa.

Greg, could you start by telling us a little bit about Xometry and the University Manufacturing Partner program? How did Xometry start the program and what have been the benefits of the program for Xometry?

Greg: Oh yeah. Thanks so much again for having us, and I think it's really exciting to talk about this aspect of the business, because Xometry was founded to kind of solve this problem of procurement, and starting with the customer, the customer is usually someone that's a mechanical designer or someone who needs manufactured part, so whether that is a machine part, a printed part, sheet metal part, injection molded part, just looking to get something made. And a traditional process which I know many have been through, which is calling and just waiting for the feedback and this kind of request for quote usually, and sometimes it's three, four, or five days and sometimes when you get that feedback it may just be a, "When do you need it by?" It's not even a full, "Here's your price and lead time."

So, we started about six years ago and injected technology into this upfront quoting process where actually we have software that's free to use online where you upload, get an instant price based off the geometry of the part and you could further configure it and change things like 3-D printing materials or processes and even specifications, price and lead time updates. So, it made it really powerful for designers and people who needed procured custom manufacturing to get these parts. And then you have the other side of the issue, right, which is manufacturing.

So, in a lot of cases for a manufacturer you may have only a local environment because they're sending locally, so you're only working with somebody nearby. And what that means is that you may have some seasonal business that comes through because maybe it's oil and gas season that has its ups and downs, or maybe there's something that can happen and I think it's very relevant right now where there could be something like weather event or an act of God or something like a pandemic where it's disrupted the supply chain and maybe you don't have a customer nearby anymore or vice versa, this customer may not have a supplier nearby. So Xometry actually bridged within their quoting and ordering experience a network of manufacturers. So for a customer, they can go order parts and press buy and for this embedded Xometry manufacturing partner network. They can go and see the scope of work that's been awarded on that network and they could see if this is something they want to take and the price that they're willing to take it at.

We've been looking for qualified suppliers and all sorts of manufacturing technologies and onboarding them, including SIMT as part of this program, and actually I think, and Tressa, you could correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure we started working with SIMT specifically when we were launching stereo-photography, a 3-D printing process, and I believe Steven from your team actually reached out and we had a dialogue and we started working through. So, I think that's really where we began to work with your program and learned more about the benefits.

Tressa: Yes, we've been partnering with Xometry I think it's at least a year and a half, maybe almost two years, and it especially started with the SLA and SLS business and then we have...I mean, we've actually looked at getting different materials that we can carry to better fill the needs of Xometry and their, places they work with.

Alexandra: Oh, awesome. That goes perfectly into my next question, which you've already touched on a little bit, but Tressa, how did SIMT become involved with the Xometry Manufacturing Partnership Program? And can you just tell me a bit about how your partnership came to be?

Tressa: Yes. The SIMT is a division of Florence-Darlington Technical College, and we opened in September of 2007, and we've been doing 3-D printing almost since then. Not very many people were doing it 13 years ago, or if they were it was typically a university or a big business, like a GE. But we got into it and now we've got folks who've been with us for eight and a half years, our lab manager, Andrew, for example. We started with...well SLS and SLA back in the day, I mean 10-12 years ago, and over time we've added DMLS, the metal printing. We also have a Connex and we do FDM piece deposition modeling as well and have added machines and capabilities over those years but especially in the last two years since we've been partnering with Xometry.

The SIMT was built to support industry, education and economic development in South Carolina, and then the region and actually we've done worked with folks in 42 states and nine countries. What happens is typically [through] Xometry, we have a job board and so we see every job that's posted at Xometry, and our purpose at the SIMT is to generate revenue that goes back to the college to support academic programs. For example, if you've ever seen a machine shop, you know how many machines there are and how expensive it is to run that kind of program on the academic side, but we have a 100% placement rate for everyone who graduates from that program dating back at least to 2002, which was when we came on board. And there's very high demand. And so, having those students to supply industries locally is very important for manufacturing in the state. We've had search from other states come and say, you know, "We need to hire your graduates," and we say, "Why don't you send us a dozen of yours and we'll just put them in a class and they'll go home and work for you?" So, we got involved with Xometry I believe because of the SolidWorks plugin. The guys in the lab kept seeing Xometry and they reached out and said, "How do we become a part of this network that you have?" And actually, we just in the last two weeks I guess got our second Xometry exemplary manufacturing partner award. That might not be the exact name.

Greg: It's the Excellence in Manufacturing Award.

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