Week 9 Virus: Online Fabrication Vendors

Coming Soon: Vinyl Cutters

We will all be receiving Silhouette Cameo 4‘s.   Comes with vinyl, hook, scraper, transfer tape, 20 Designs, AutoBlade, PixScan, 12” Cutting mat.

Theses are loaner machines, you do not own these machines.  But you should treat it like you own it.  We are going to be diving deep into this vinyl cutter.


  • Max. cutting area: 12 in. x 24 in. (30.5 cm x 61 cm) with a cutting mat, 12 in. x 10 ft. (30.5 cm x 3m) without a cutting mat
  • Max cutting thickness: 0.118 inches (3 mm)
  • Compatible Media: Vinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper, Corrugated paper, Chipboard, Fabric, and more


Star template
Template Maker

Star shaped light difusser

Star Lights are made from manilla folders.

Online Fabrication Services
The following list are online fabrication vendors.  Last we checked, they are still open for business.  Most of these services can quote a price before any work is done.

Online Laser Cutting Services
Big Blue Saw
Send Cut Send (metal laser cutting only)

Online CNC Services
eMachine Shop
3D Hubs

3D Printing Services
eMachine Shop
3D Hubs

PCB Manufacturing Services
Advance Circuits

Waterjet Cutting Services
Big Blue Saw

Quote Process

Some of these services have instant quoting.  Export your CAD drawings in a format that the service requires, pick your material, and your quantity.  The more you want, the cheaper each individual part will be.

I went through the process for a couple of small aluminum part.  The quotes can be seen below for CNCs, waterjet cutting, and metal laser cutting.


3D Hubs quote
3D Hubs quoted 5 CNCd parts at $186.15
Big Blue Saw quote
Big Blue Saw quoted 5 waterjet cut parts at $94.70
eMachine Shop quote
eMachine Shop quoted 5 CNCd parts at $224.55
Send Cut Send quote
Send Cut Send quoted 6 laser cut aluminum parts at $29.00

Keep in mind, I could mill one on the Othermill in 40 minutes.

Bantam Tools screen grab

Take Aways

  • Finish effects cost
  • Quantity effects price per piece
  • Material thickness effects price
  • Laser cutting is generally the cheapest process, CNC milling is usually the most expensive.
  • The iterative rapid prototyping process is gone.  Double check your drawings.  Triple check them.  Have someone else look at them.
  • Avoid tight tolerances whenever you can.
  • You actually save money on material costs when using online fabricators.
  • You should talk to someone on the phone when ever possible.  They probably can get the cost of your part down.
  • You do not get to learn from the fabrication process.

Design for Manufacturing Tips

  • Avoid thin parts
  • Round corners
  • Precision costs
  • If the part is difficult for you to make, it is probably difficult for a fabricator to make.  There will be a cost.


  1. Create a CAD model of a CNC-able 3D part.
  2. Run through the process of receiving a quote from a few of the online vendors.  Try different materials and finishes, compare prices, keep good notes.
  3. Get familiar with your new vinyl cutter.  Unbox it, load the software, and cut some vinyl.

Blog all of your work.

Related Reading/Viewing

Template Maker (perfect for vinyl cutters)


Papercraft Star Lantern on Make: Live ep22

DfMc: Design for McMaster-Carr