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Mass customization and personalization news, the First Online Factory

2005-03-11 - Midland Park, NJ, USA: The world's first online factory,, enables anyone to design, price, and instantly order any mechanical part - whether it's a part to fix an antique lock or an add-on for a motorbike. From initial contact to placing an order, the entire process takes as little as 15 minutes. positions itself as an innovative web site offering the easiest, most cost-effective way to turn ideas into real 3D parts.

"Cabin fever is one of the down-sides of the long winter of 2005, but a sure cure is turning that dream project into a reality," says Jim Lewis, president of "I'm currently making a computerized bicycle."

Mr. Lewis explained, "Whether you are designing a new part or are in need for more of an existing part, getting custom parts is time consuming and costly. Until now, you had to buy and learn expensive and complex CAD software, make technical drawings, locate a machine shop, find a way to transmit the drawings to the machine shop, discuss the design with an accomplished machinist, sift through numerous price quotations, and eventually get your part - often paying much more than necessary while adding weeks of delay."

As the winter of 2005 closed in,'s order increased for a wide variety of special parts for inventions, hobbies, as well as new products and replacement parts. Applications range from automobiles, radio-controlled aircraft, enclosures and electronic equipment to robots, sculptures and musical instruments. at-a-glance

To begin, users download eMachineShop's free CAD software. During the design phase,'s automated machining expert analyses the shape, material and finish to keep the user informed of any physical limitations, thereby making it easy for engineers and non-technical people to design parts quickly and easily.

A 3D preview lets the user spin the object around on their screen to visualize the final part before ordering. From the customer's screen to delivery at the customer's door, takes care of everything totally transparently. "Although not as fast, it's almost like the transporter in Star Trek," said Mr. Lewis, "which can serve up anything from food to space ship parts." currently offers CNC milling, turning, punching, blanking, laser cutting, plastic extrusion, thermoforming, tapping, bending, water jet cutting, injection molding and wire EDM. Surface finishes include brushing, plating, powder coating, anodizing, polishing, grinding, and more. Materials range from a broad selection of metals, plastics, woods, composites and others.

A story like this might be thought of as suited for the Technology section of this website. However, our Technology articles usually refer to systems that enable enterprises to offer a product or a service to the consumer. is offering its service directly to anyone who wants to use it.

In effect, it is merging the mass-customizing concept with the machine shop business. This is something which pushes the boundaries of mass customization. Mass customization usually involves the customer having greater control of a business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C)market. Here, it is turning a B2B market into a B2C one. eMachineShop is opening an existing industrial business sector to consumer markets in a way not previously achieved.

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