Prototyping Services Spike Bodes Well for Manufacturing in 2018


Hello, and happy new year.

As we end the holiday season, we’re coming off of what is typically a low-key week in industry, as workers take off and businesses slow down between Christmas and New Year’s Day. But the Thomas Network at is always on, and our data does show some interesting sourcing activity for that week.

Specifically, we saw an increase in two industrial service categories that, when taken together, is a good sign for manufacturing in general in 2018.

First, sourcing for prototyping services was up 138 percent month-over-month from November, and actually hit its all-time high in sourcing activity on our platform during the last week of December.

We also saw an increase in sourcing for 5-axis machining, which was up 107 percent over the previous week, and measured double its historical average in weekly sourcing volume. This fact is interesting when combined with the surge in activity for prototyping, as 5-axis machining is often used for creating prototype parts, components, and tooling.

These are typically complex shapes in a single setup using a block of material. Seems like our active users were tackling new ideas and techniques to manufacture complex parts while everyone else was taking a break. That’s the type of hustle American manufacturing is known for, and the fact that they’re getting their prototyping lined up for future product development now bodes well for the state of manufacturing in 2018.

Hey, if you’re curious as to which product and service categories saw the most sourcing activity at while so much of America took the holiday week off, here are the top five:

Printed circuit boards topped the list, followed by injection molded plastics, prototypes, hydraulic fittings, and connectors.

Well, that’s what we’re seeing this week.

If you’re interested in getting a free custom report on exactly which buyers are in-market today for the products and services you offer, visit

Thanks for watching!

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