Online CNC Services... Experiences?

I’m doing some research into “Pushbutton Manufacturing”, or “Cloud Machining”. The idea being that you take your CAD file, upload it to the web, get a quote and then get your part.

I’ve had some experience with this using Shapeways and 3D printed parts, but not with CNC machined parts.

A few vendors that provide this service include: and

I was curious if anyone has had experience with these vendors, or other “Cloud Machining” services… either for FRC uses or for “real work work” (You know, that stuff we do in the off-season that pays the bills.)

Thanks for any insight you can share!


We saw a lot of teams give cloud manufacturing a run this season using our KoP voucher.

We had a 6 day average ship time on CNC parts and a 3 day average ship time on waterjet parts. Our median first response time to messages was 4 minutes. Quote times slowed down a bit during build season; however, we were still usually in the 24-48 hour window (waterjet parts are now automatically quoted).

I can’t comment too much on the teams perspective; however, I can say we primarily had positive feedback on our satisfaction surveys.

Plethora is another one.

I, and many others I work with, use ProtoLabs, Rapid Machine, and Rapid Sheetmetal routinely with good results. Just understand the type of quality you should expect, work within those bounds, and it will go well for you. I have lots of prototype tooling made through these services, sometimes small runs of production tooling even. Rapid Sheetmetal is darn near cost-competitive with other sheet metal vendors and are a supplier for several production tool PNs for me. Being able to run lower kanban levels and/or no kanban at all makes their small premium worth it to me.

FWIW my last 3 or 4 machining quotes from Protolabs have been turned around in less than an hour. Rapid is generally <24 hours, usually same-day, and I think they’re owned by Protolabs now.

1293 used Anchor Labs and got their sponsorship this year. Parts looked good, everything deburred and ready to go on the robot immediately. Haven’t used the others to really gauge the price, but we felt it was fair.

I’ve had good experiences for them for industry applications.

None of them would be near cost effective for FRC… and anyone that is cost effective for FRC I would be very concerned about quality and/or leadtime.

Thank you to everyone for your replies! I knew CD would have some helpful info on this topic! (And, as usual… in 12 hours or less!)

I’m really excited about the Anchor Labs sponsorship and will be following up with that in more detail.

This is for an article I’m helping prepare for and I really like to be able to feature FIRST teams and their sponsors when ever I can. We’re at a cool nexus of education, innovation, leading edge tech and budget constraint that results in really cool solutions.