The Procurement Tool Every Designer Should Be Using

Posted on Aug 25, 2020 by Cullen Hikene

As a product designer, it’s your job to not only come up with cutting-edge designs but also get those parts made and gain buy-in from above. 

Some of us have the benefit of outstanding in-house shops that can make our visions a reality. But sometimes they have backlogs.  Or can’t meet the tolerances or finishes required.  Or don’t stock the material you want.

And lots of us DON’T have an in-house shop.

Inevitably, there’s a need to go outside. And between hunting down suppliers, managing emails, and analyzing responses, that’s often a painful process. 

It doesn’t have to be. 3Diligent recently launched a new software offering called ProdEX Connect.  

This new SaaS solution leverages 3Diligent’s experience acquired in six years of juggling a global supply network. We know a lot about how tough it is to manage dozens of suppliers. With the release of ProdEX, we provide streamlined tools to customers who want to make their lives just a little bit easier.

How It Works

ProdEX was developed with the different stages of product development in mind.  That’s why there are three distinct RFQ types depending on your particular needs at any given moment in the product development lifecycle.  Once you’re logged into the secure portal, you can pick any of these three options to get off and running…

  • Have existing suppliers you’d like to manage more effectively or seeking a new partner to work closely with someone on product development?  Check out Connect.
  • Seeking rapid manufacturing that leverages the power of global souring, or simply just looking for a quick quote when scoping a project? ProdEX Auto is a great option.
  • Have a developed product, but looking to outsource project management to the team of ProdEX experts?  ProdEX PM is for you.

Allow us to tell you a bit more about each…

ProdEX Connect

With ProdEX Connect, you are given the procurement and connectivity tools of a major enterprise so that you can run the show!

When you start a Connect RFQ, you’re given the opportunity to first establish supplier requirements.  These include restrictions on supplier size, eligible regions, quality certifications, and requested paperwork (e.g., material certifications, certificates of conformance).  After that, you can upload CAD files, related 2D drawings, and detailed project requirements such as material, technology, and finish requirements.

Once you’ve plugged in your manufacturing requirements, you advance to the supplier selection page.  It’s here where you can release to suppliers you’ve already had added to your customer profile, or invite new suppliers to quote your program.  Don’t have suppliers already?  No problem!  You can request introductions to matching suppliers in our global ProdEX manufacturing network that match the specific requirements you’ve defined.

Once you submit your RFQ, interested suppliers will start engaging you in the portal, using integrated Zoom videoconferencing tools.  Discuss your project requirements and sort through product design adjustments as needed.  Throughout, the ProdEX Connect interface allows you to store message histories and manage multiple suppliers in a seamless and hyper-efficient way.

ProdEX Auto

ProdEX Auto is our automated quoting engine.  Using ProdEX Auto, you have access to hundreds of materials and technologies.  It’s completely in your hands how you want to explore them.  Using our material and technology search tools, you select various combinations that we offer and click SUBMIT.  If we have enough depth in our supply network and enough pricing data, we’ll generate an automated quote for you, on the spot.  This quote is fully actionable, so if it looks good, place the order!  We’ll take your order out to our network get it dynamically fulfilled for a quick turnaround.

A few quick heads ups about Auto.  First, Auto brings our entire manufacturing network to bear.  That means suppliers large and small, from all over the globe, in an on-demand way.  Additionally, all manufacturing done through Auto is “best effort” and not bound by tolerance or surface finish restrictions.  So if you’ve got needs that extend beyond those limitations, please check out our other options.  But if you’re looking for quick quotes and fulfillment, there’s not a better option on the market.


ProdEX PM is our turnkey solution for when you’d rather outsource project management to our expert ProdEX team.  Like with Connect, you’re given tremendous control over the project requirements you bring to the table.  These include geographic and quality certifications, as well as the ability to upload PDF drawings, pictures, and other supplier requirements.

PM is the most comprehensive solution offered through ProdEX, bringing not only materials and technologies that are prevalent across the ProdEX network, but also potentially brand new ones that aren’t broadly commercialized.  PM also provides you a seamless pathway to delivering the value of distributed digital manufacturing.  With PM, the ProdEX team manages fulfillment from optimal solutions around the planet to meet your different requirements.  Especially if you’re looking to get the same outputs from around the planet for on-demand manufacturing, ProdEX PM provides you elastic supply.

The Shopsight Advantage

Benefiting each of the ProdEX options is their close integration with Shopsight software.  Shopsight is the manufacturing execution software designed and developed by 3Diligent based on more than 6 years of working closely with service bureaus, job shops, and machine shops to fulfill ProdEX production requests.  Within Shopsight are tools designed to support manufacturers with effective project assessment, estimation, job routing, quality assurance, and audit trails.  So whenever a customer purchases a part or product through ProdEX, they know that the manufacturer on the other side has a comprehensive quality management system at their disposal to ensure a great output, every time.

The Bottom Line

ProdEX is the most powerful digital manufacturing sourcing solution the market for the sheer diversity of its offerings.  From three discrete ways to submit RFQs to an integration with Shopsight to ensure parts arrive on time and to spec, every time, ProdEX is tough to beat.

If you think ProdEX might be a good solution for your manufacturing needs, you can sign up for a free ProdEX account here.  Or read more about the software and service here.

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