A Hands-On Look at the Xometry Add-In for Fusion 360

New add-in comes with a 10 percent discount for Fusion 360 subscribers.

The new Xometry add-in for Fusion 360.

The new Xometry add-in for Fusion 360.

Xometry, a marketplace service for on-demand manufacturing, has released an integrated add-in for Autodesk Fusion 360. The add-in is free, though Fusion 360—an integrated design and manufacturing platform—costs USD$495/year.

We took a hands-on look at the Xometry add-in to see how it works.

Installing the Xometry Add-In for Fusion 360

There are many add-ins available for Fusion 360 and other Autodesk products through the Autodesk app store. Many are free (like the Xometry add-in) but some will cost you.

To install the Xometry add-in (officially called the Xometry Instant Quote App) you must first download the Windows or Mac installer from the app store. After running the installer, you must activate Xometry in the Fusion 360 add-ins menu.

It would be nice if Autodesk allowed users to enable add-ins directly from Fusion 360, rather than sending them to a browser and making them manually install and activate every add-in. I’m picturing something like Fusion 360 extensions, which are like supercharged add-ins made by Autodesk that can essentially be toggled on and off with one click.

While I’m complaining, Fusion 360 add-ins also don’t always behave the same way within Fusion—some show up in the add-ins menu, others get their own menu, yet others appear in the quick access toolbar; there’s no consistency. It’s a strange disconnect given Fusion 360’s otherwise strong focus on seamlessly integrating different tools.

Three different add-ins, three different locations.

Three different add-ins, three different locations.

But I digress—back to Xometry.

How to Use the Xometry Fusion 360 Add-In

Once you’ve activated the Xometry add-in in Fusion 360, you’ll be prompted to log into your Xometry account or create one if you’re a new user. The add-in appears as a floating window in the style of other Fusion 360 toolsets.

After you log in, there’s one option available to you: select the component for which you want a quote. You can only select one Fusion 360 body at a time. The body names don’t transfer to the Xometry add-in, so if you’ve got multiple bodies it can be hard to know if you’ve selected the right one. My advice—and this is broadly applicable—is to hide the bodies you don’t want found.

Once you select the proper component, Xometry will spend a few seconds analyzing it. If all goes well, you’ll be able to specify the manufacturing process, material and quantity you’re seeking. The materials vary by process, of which there are ten options:

  • Polyjet 3D
  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering
  • Selective Laser Sintering
  • CNC Machining
  • Sheet Metal
  • Fused Deposition Modeling
  • Stereolithography
  • Urethane Casting
  • HP Multi Jet Fusion
  • Carbon DLS

For our first test, we modeled a simple recreation of the Xometry logo and picked a few arbitrary manufacturing parameters.

We hit that blue Calculate Estimate button, and…

It turns out our meter-tall X is too big. A dimensional oversight in our case, but those who actually need big components will be sent to Xometry’s website for a manual quote.

Before we change the size of our part, we can check if another manufacturing process would work better. It seems to be too large for everything we try, but size isn’t the only problem we encounter:

I appreciate that the Xometry add-in offers relevant feedback rather than just a generic error message. While some users will need to go the manual quote route at this point, we can simply scale down our big X by 10 little x and try again.

Success! For our arbitrary manufacturing parameters, we’re looking at a two-day lead time and a cost of $35.89. That includes an exclusive 10 percent discount for Fusion 360 users. Autodesk is offering a reciprocal 20 percent discount on Fusion 360 to all Xometry suppliers.

Placing a Xometry Order

What is that tantalizing blue “View Xometry Instant Quote” button, you ask? Clicking it takes you out of Fusion 360 and onto Xometry’s website.

Here we see a few other price points, including a more expensive expedited build and a cheaper economy option. We can also pull up a properties window that gives us additional manufacturing options, including many more processes, materials, infill options, finishing options, and more. Once we’ve finalized our order, we can proceed to checkout.

Xometry Add-In Verdict

For users of both Xometry and Fusion 360, the new Xometry add-in is a nice convenience. It might save users a little time. But it would have been nice to see a deeper integration. To actually place an order, or to access the full range of Xometry’s manufacturing properties, users are forced to leave the Fusion 360 environment and finish up on Xometry’s web platform, just as they would have done without the add-in.

For this reason, the primary value of the Xometry add-in seems to be as a tool to quickly estimate how design changes might affect manufacturing costs. While some users will certainly appreciate this, I’d love to see a future version of the add-in that doesn’t require users to leave Fusion 360 to place a Xometry order.

You can download the Xometry add-in here and Fusion 360 here.

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at engineering.com. He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.