4 Reasons Why I Use On-Demand Manufacturing and the 3 best Online-Manufacturers in Germany

A big change is coming to Germany: on-demand manufacturing

Most of us who have become professional engineers or technicians love to work with different machines and tools. Most likely, our early love of anything that moves, looks, or can be assembled (thanks Lego!) influenced our career choice earlier than we would have liked.

And as our careers have gradually evolved, so has our knowledge of various technical design options. Many of us have a whole arsenal of technical toys at our disposal at work, with which we can develop products, build machines or derive processes.

In recent years, globalization and digitization have made this treasure trove of possibilities available to a wide audience. Complicated control devices that could quickly cost several thousand euros shrank down to an Arduino, which can be used to perform more complex automation tasks very easily. Almost all of us have already played with the possibilities of 3D printers, and were downright surprised by the ease with which components could be manufactured: create a model, load it, print it, remove the support structure. And suddenly, with a printer for a few euros, you have a way to create parts whose precision is less than 0.5mm. Not bad!

So it's no wonder that the Maker movement is not only growing steadily, but also becoming more and more professional. Now, a new way of manufacturing components has emerged in the Maker movement that has the potential to revolutionize the entire manufacturing industry, including B2B: Welcome to the on-demand revolution.

What ist On-demand manufacturing and how can Instant-Quoting help engineers in Germany?

On-demand manufacturing: With on-demand production, a conscious decision is made not to implement internal production, but to leave production to specialized companies. This saves huge investments in machinery and, as a company, ongoing personnel costs. But on-demand manufacturing also gives makers, startups and development departments access to industrial manufacturing capacities that were previously unavailable to them.

A radical change is currently emerging through so-called "instant quoting". In this process, prices for components are generated directly on the basis of CAD data. The time-consuming effort of quoting is thus eliminated. For Makers and small companies, however, this also creates a new market transparency that leads to the cost-effective purchase of production parts. Only this enables the radical, fast implementation of innovations instead of trouble shooting in manufacturing.

The three best Online-Manufacturers in Germany

From my point of view - as a engineer living in Germany the three best online manufacturer are:

  • For CNC-machined parts: InstaWerk GmbH from Stuttgart. They offer excellent quality at a reasonable price and can provide engineering support if required. One great benefit for all English-speakers and customers outside Germany is the multilingual functionality of the website.
  • For CNC metal bending sheets: 247tailorsteel.com: They are among the pioneers in online-manufacturing and instant pricing for metal sheet manufacturing. They used to have a seperate software, which runs on premise and needed a local installation for their on-demand procurement process. Luckily they have now moved their software online, making it much more convenient for customers to upload parts and get a quote.
  • For 3D-printing: Meltwerk offers great prices with a very reduced set of available materials and options. They are a small start-up from Berlin and have now changed the main path of their business towards developing online customizers based on CAD. Their 3D-printing service Meltwerk is nevertheless still available.
  • If you want to utilize a local network of manufacturers and work with them directly, Orderspot offers a modified ordering process: Orderspot will calculate the prices of local suppliers, based on their own price structure and put you into contact with them without "standing in line". I think this is helpful, if communication-intensive and complicated parts are to be manufactured.

I know there are more players in the US and some of them are also offering their services to Germany, but for me having a German-speaking support, a local "go-to" partner was always the first priority. And of course, just replicating the existing players might not be as interesting for you as a reader :)

The golden 4 reasons to use On-demand Manufacturing

  1. Price transparency and price advantage
    Instant quoting limits the time required for price comparison to just a few clicks. With many providers, quality requirements can also be defined directly, thus defining a suitable time/cost/quality target.
  2. Focus on value creation
    Instead of spending time at the milling machine or lathe fixing manufacturing problems, product developers and engineers can use the time to develop great products, identify defects or implement optimizations. This creates immediate value for the company.
  3. Time, time, time
    Delivery time 24h. This is also possible in on-demand manufacturing, because the network formation usually allows access to several thousand pavers. Hardly any company can maintain this capacity itself. This results in advantages in time to market, product development time and competitiveness.
  4. Potential for complete digitalization
    For medium sized companies, called the "Mittelstand" in Germany, having the potential to fully digitalize their supply chain is a huge advantage as around 20% of the procurement costs are related to the ordering process itself. Especially prototypes and small series tend to be extremely hard to purchase efficiently.

Summary: GermanyÄs On-demand Manufacturing industry is waking up.

Online-manufacturers might be the next-level enablers for innovators regardless of their company's size. They bring a extensive network of global capacities to small size firms, engineers and large corporates. With younger engineers taking front seats in the decision making process, we will see "new giants" which are challenging the status quo of mechancial engineering. Be ready for the revolution.

Literature and Links

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Über mich

Moritz Schulz
Mitarbeiter in der Fraunhofer Gesellschaft und Technik-Blogger seit 2012.



Beratung zu Digitalisierung & Entwicklung im Maschinenbau