FINISHING PASS COLUMN
BY SERENA NGOH
Todd White was struggling.
He’d experienced career highs at an engineering firm as a machine operator, machine programmer, and on-the-job-trained engineer before joining a startup company. When the venture went belly-up, White relocated his family of five from Temecula, Calif., to Surprise, Ariz., in hopes of rebuilding a career in engineering.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. As full-time job leads grew colder, White did one odd job after another to support his family. He’d basically used up all his savings and was getting worried.
Then his wife reminded him about the Tormach PCNC mill he’d bought while working at the startup. “She said, ‘You have the machine in the garage; you need to put it to work,’” he says in this video. “I started calling around, trying to figure out how to find work.”
One contact recommended he look into Xometry, an online marketplace that matches companies seeking CNC machining, 3D printing, sheet metal fabrication, injection molding, urethane casting, and finishing services. Launched in 2013, the manufacturing as a service (MaaS) platform vets potential fabricating and metalworking suppliers for customers including Bosch, BMW, Dell Technologies, and General Electric.
Full-Time Manufacturing as a service (MaaS)
White realized the capital he invested in the milling machine could be used to generate jobs through Xometry’s free Partner Network. He filled out a shop profile and made a test part that Xometry’s engineers inspected. One week later, Todd White Metal Works of Glendale, Ariz. (firstname.lastname@example.org; 951-375-6353), was approved to take CNC machining jobs.
White vividly remembers getting his first check. “I made $135. That would’ve taken me one full day doing some odd job like setting pigeon spikes on a roof. Now I can make that in an hour.”
He initially envisioned the manufacturing as a service (MaaS) platform as a source of supplementary income. However, his thinking changed as the flow of jobs from customers from various industries remained steady.
“I realized this was a way to make a living,” he says. “You can take it as far as you want. If you want to make $25,000 to $30,000 a month, you can. If you want to make $2,000, you can. It’s amazing to have that control at your fingertips.”
Each day, White gets a notification with all open jobs, which include price and schedule, that match his preferences and shop capabilities. He logs onto the job board and clicks a button to accept the ones he wants. Xometry supplies shipping labels once a Partner accepts a job.
“You see the lead times, material, what they pay. I never have to negotiate with anyone, never have to do quoting, nothing. ‘Can you do the job?’ Yes, click the button. It’s a weight off my shoulders.”
The frequency and types of jobs he sees depend on his Partner Success Score (PPS). Based on Xometry’s AI-driven algorithm that considers multiple quality and timeliness metrics for each completed job within the 4,000-company Partner Network, the PPS tops out at 100.
White uses the score to gauge his work’s quality. Once, when he took a job working with an unfamiliar material and was at risk of late delivery, he reached out to Xometry to say he’d bit off more than he could chew.
When Xometry redirected the job to another Partner, White’s PSS fell to 68. White recalls his conversation with the Partner team as “professional and nurturing,” driving him to improve his machining abilities and eventually achieve a PSS of 98.
Investing to Meet Demand
After a year, White saved enough to buy a Haas Super Mini Mill 2 and Haas ST15Y CNC lathe with live tooling capabilities – and move into a 1,200-square-foot space big enough to house them. He supplies the military, aerospace, and military industries; makes safety components for tractors and mining equipment; and machines custom parts for car and motorcycle enthusiasts.
White keeps failed parts – those that don’t meet Xometry’s standards – as a daily reminder of ways he can improve.
“If I needed a question answered, they’ve been there for me,” he says. “If I couldn’t machine a part, they’ve walked me through it.”
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