How to Make Money with 3D Printing: 8 Ways for you to Profit
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Welcome to my detailed guide on how to make money with 3D printing. You can sell physical products or start a YouTube channel or a blog to train interested learners.
As a creative, this art can unlock endless possibilities. Since 3D printing isn’t taken seriously by many, you can take advantage and make money out of it. All you need to do is produce unique and valuable products that consumers will love.
This article provides you with 8 different options of how to make money with 3D printing. Check them out!
- How to Make Money with 3D Printing
- Is 3D Printing Worth It?
- Is 3D Printing a Good Investment?
- Is There a Demand for 3D Printing?
- How Much Do 3D Printing Businesses Make?
- Is 3D Printing a Profitable Business?
- What Can I Make with a 3D Printer to Sell?
- Can You Make a Career Out of 3D Printing?
- Will 3D Printing Stocks Go Up?
- Can I Sell 3D Prints on Etsy?
- How Do 3D Printers Get Clients?
- Are There Companies That Will 3D Print for You?
- Is 3D Printing the Future?
- Final Thoughts
How to Make Money with 3D Printing
As already mentioned, not a ton of people show interest in learning 3D printing. Some people don't enjoy the overwhelming number of things involved in art, and some have even thought that it’s hard to make money from this process. But it's not!
Making money with a 3D printing service can take many different forms. So, at any given time, there are opportunities in this space. Let’s look at the various methods.
You Can Sell 3D Printed Items
One thing you must get right from the get-go is the niche you want to work in. Always print items that are in demand.
When you create something unique that solves the consumer problem, you can sell it at the price you like, and they’ll buy. With your products ready, post them online for sale on Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.
Etsy offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to sell their products for a small fee. Just set up a store and list your products for sale.
Alternatively, you can print the products and sell them to other sellers.
If you decide to sell on Etsy, choose a good Etsy tag generator to help you tag your products in the best way possible so potential customers can find them.
You can sell anything from jewelry to pet accessories, mugs, etchings, Nerf guns, logo stamp makers, aesthetics, drone parts, architecture models, robotic kits, and more.
Shopify is another excellent way to create an online store.Try Shopify Free for 14 Days
Just make sure that you don’t make substandard products that won’t gather any sales even in the long run.
Sell 3D Printer Designs
If you're a 3D designer and your craft is on another level, make print designs and sell them to other people that can print them. Some software like Blender and Autodesk can enable you to create designs of all types.
You have to get the right people with the original idea of what they want to have. Using the appropriate software, your work is to convert that picture into an actual 3D design. You can earn handsomely from this kind of work.
The advantage of selling print designs is that you don’t have to get into the details of manufacturing the physical product. In the end, it saves you a lot of time and resources.
While creating 3D print designs, ensure you have 3D-friendly CAD software – one that’ll be easy and comfortable for you to handle.
Always research the designs to create. Then, come up with items that people are repeatedly buying.
You can market yourself or the 3D designs online. Some of the websites where your models can be displayed for sale include Cults3D, Threeding, 3DExchange, I.Materialize, CGTrader, Shapeways, Pinshape, Embodi3D, TurboSquid, Daz 3D, and many others.
Start a local 3D Printing Business
Starting a 3D printing business can reap huge profits for people living in big cities. This is because your business encounters many customers all the time.
Once you’ve found the perfect niches and produced excellent items, there’s no doubt that your business can flourish. You can sell the physical items in person and provide printing services to other people.
Teach Others 3D printing
Another indirect method of making money through 3D printing is teaching other people. One way is by launching classes in your locality. There are so many interested people who are willing to pay to learn.
Whether it’s a rented space or a college class you’re using, you could charge trainees anything from $15-20 per student. If you have many students on board, you can make a lot of money.
You must deliver high-quality information to sustain and grow your classes, though. Soon, your good reputation will sell the services you’re offering to many other people.
If you don't want to teach in-person classes, you can make recorded informational videos and 3D printing courses and post them on the online class marketplace—many marketplaces like Udemy, Sharetribe, Skillshare, MasterClass, and more boast a broad audience worldwide.
Start a 3D printing blog
Starting a blog is an opportunity that a serious designer should consider for the success of their business. Besides the actual printing, you may have a few or many things to share with the world or your market.
You could provide informational guides for beginners on how to get started in 3D printing. Or come up with helpful blog posts about the items you’re creating.
Check out our guide on how to start a blog that makes money.
Blogging can earn you money in various ways. As long as you have the right traffic, you can make money through sponsored ads and affiliate products when readers buy items advertised on your blog.
Also, you can post your 3D models on your blog for people to see. If their quality is perfect, there’ll be customers for them.Start a Blog with Bluehost
Sell Your 3D Prints At Conventions
Local conventions can be a ready market for your models. You might get a few interested buyers if you’re promoting a good product.
What you need to make sure is that the print fits the event. For instance, you can sell space-themed or comic-themed models at the Comic-Con.
Sell Personalized Items
You can also create personalized items and sell them. These items could range from name tags to engraved pictures and wedding gifts.
This method isn’t just a way of making money, but it’s fun as well. And, it doesn’t involve as many costs that come with setting up large-scale print operations.
For instance, you can make custom wedding products that bear the newlyweds' names. Or, you could target Christmas and create personalized products specific to the Christmas holidays.
Selling personalized print items can be a great side hustle to earn money from.
Provide 3D Printing Consultancy To Design Companies
You can undertake consultancy for a firm or on a freelance basis. Either way, the procedure for it is the same.
A company or someone sends you their idea in pictures, sketches, and other details. You’re required to design the 3D model, print it, and post-process it from the information.
Although post-processing involves plenty of details to work on, it makes the item be what it should be in real life. To get hired by a company, though, requires that your 3D printing skills are flawless.
A company won't want to risk having an inexperienced person create prototypes. So, you must be very skilled and produce high-quality products.
To get these jobs, ensure you have a solid portfolio online. People will look for you, and others can market you, especially if you did an excellent job for them previously.
Is 3D Printing Worth It?
Not everyone enjoys 3D printing. But the few people who have launched into this industry have other ideas about it. You could be wondering whether it’s worth it or not.
3D printing is a worthy industry if you think of it as a hobby that can generate some income.
If you have the time, money, and the space to do extra work, it’ll satisfy your urge. Selling 3D models or prints can earn you money, but it’s not a get-rich-quick arrangement.
There are a lot of details you must pay close attention to. For example, you may need to map an item, draft, design, modify, and finally print it. And, you haven’t even done post-processing.
If you have the patience required for this craft, you’ll definitely get the fulfillment the 3D print comes with.
The industry is a gold mine for creators and full-time artists specializing in serious niches. These people learn to use different CAD software and programs to draw designs. So, there’s virtually nothing complicated for them.
They don’t have to spend money to buy a design for printing since they can do it comfortably. This also means that production costs are well managed for profit realization when items are eventually sold.
3D printing is a good business for such professionals, and it’s worth every penny they invest in. But for a person without all the skills, it will take time to break even in this industry.
All in all, for anyone who has tried 3D printing at some point, their experiences have been different. It may turn out to be a great fit for you or not.
Is 3D Printing a Good Investment?
There are many industries today which rely on 3D models and designs. From building high-quality prototypes to creating custom parts and increasing innovations, 3D printing offers remarkable benefits.
But is it a good investment to make as an investor, creator, or hobbyist? In general, if it’s a must-have part of your business, then it’s a worthwhile investment with long-term benefits. Manufacturing companies would appreciate the impact on their processes.
Even so, it’s vital to ask yourself questions like:
- Why do you want this technology,
- What benefits can it bring, and
- What costs are expected for its operations?
Of course, in the end, you also want to investigate how long 3D printing can take to start to bring profits to your business.
These questions should provide a clear guideline for whether you need to adopt the craft or not, especially for established manufacturing companies and startups.
If 3D printing can improve the production process by speeding it up and making unique products, it’s worth investing in it. If the market loves your products because they’re unique and helpful, you can have the technology as part of your business.
Most importantly, if your evaluation concludes that the cost of production goes down while maximizing returns, it’s a solid yes.
Stick to your traditional manufacturing method if the assessment turns out negative in many of the 3D printing aspects.
For a hobbyist, the cost of buying a 3D printer may be a bit high. You'll also need to purchase materials for making the items.
Just creating a few products for display doesn’t help much. It would be better to seek for services of other printers in this case.
However, the technology would be useful for a hobbyist with the skills and experience to use the 3D printer. You must be thoroughly knowledgeable and have an interest in areas of education, games, airplane models, toys, and many others.
Is There a Demand for 3D Printing?
For serious entrepreneurs who want to start this business, the biggest concern is the market for their prints. Fortunately, there’s a demand for 3D printing, and it’s on an upward trend.
The market size for the 3D print industry is expected to expand at a growth rate of 21% from 2021 to 2028.
By 2028, over 15.3 million 3D print units are expected to be shipped, a significant increase from 2.1 million in 2020. These figures are astronomical if the report is anything to go by.
The highest demand for these prints is mostly in auto, medical, and aerospace – three massive playfields. Notably, prototyping is the primary benefit of this technology to companies specializing in the named niches.
Because of the quick turnaround of prototypes, 3D printing has been dubbed efficient and effective for manufacturing parts. Yet, it’s easy to forget that the auto industry is the fastest-growing and features a universal marketplace.
If auto parts are needed in massive numbers, 3D printing applications stand a chance to reach the ceiling, as indicated in the reported numbers above.
There’s no doubt that better-performing vehicles and cars are in high demand. That, alone, is a major driver for the rapid growth of technology.
How Much Do 3D Printing Businesses Make?
Starting a 3D print business could work for you. However, you’ll have to put in your best in terms of skills, resources, and time to make a profit. So, how much can this kind of business make?
Generally, a 3D artist can single-handedly make up to $53,000 on average in a year.
But, many factors determine whether your business makes a profit. Most importantly, the type of product you’re selling is a critical factor.
If you have a unique product that specifically addresses the problem of many consumers in the market, your business is in for rapid growth. Many people are looking for impactful products to help them solve their challenges.
Apart from the perfect niche and products, relevant advertising is another critical factor in making more money from your print business. You want to link up and connect to the right marketplace to promote your work and increase sales.
Is 3D Printing a Profitable Business?
3D crafts aren’t the most established pieces of art in the market. Nevertheless, it’s a growing sector that records a 25% annual growth yearly.
With that said, 3D printing is a profitable business if you, as a creator, choose the correct niche and make incredible customer-focused products.
Considering the forecasts for the future of this business, there’s vast potential. Customers are willing to pay if they find a product that gets their most challenging job done.
Since the inception of 3D printing, there’s been little to no competition. This is because most businesses have kept away from this idea due to the fine details it requires at times.
However, anyone with an entrepreneurial mind sees this as the perfect opportunity to launch into business and explore the endless possibilities it presents.
Nonetheless, no one should jump onto this bandwagon without patience. It only becomes profitable in the long run, and it could take a lot of time to achieve this.
What Can I Make with a 3D Printer to Sell?
There are many cool things you can make and sell with 3D printing. These items can earn you incredible income to sustain you in the long run, without a doubt.
The good thing is that you can do this from anywhere. If you have enough space at home, you’ll be able to do just as much work as someone working in a warehouse.
Make sure that your products have a high ROI. Secondly, keep in mind copyright rules.
Here is a list of ideas of items you can make and sell:
Miniatures are popular replicas used primarily for tabletop games such as D&D and Warhammer. You can print miniatures on your 3D printer and sell them at a reasonable price since many people love them.
These things are customizable, and you can sell them unpainted.
Taking different shapes and colors, jewelry is another prime opportunity to make money out of 3D prints. The market is booming, so profits are going to be high.
The most vital thing is to make your jewelry stand out from the rest. Since these items are small, you won’t need as much raw material.
The field of toys is a profit-guaranteed business as long as you meet the necessary requirements by law. Printing toys is much faster and more straightforward.
Also, they don’t need a lot of post-processing activity. You can develop exciting toy ideas, shapes, and colors kids love.
If you’re gifted in the area of modeling interior and exterior designs of a building, architecture models aren’t going to be something to leave out of your projects. However, these models are arguably the most difficult ones to recreate.
They’re a bit complex, probably because of the purposes they should serve. On the plus side, architecture models attract the best prices on the market.
You can also explore the universal market for phone cases by making them on your 3D printer. If you’re just beginning, use simple designs.
Vases are powerful home decor tools that can be printed on 3D printers. Since every homeowner wants to improve their homes, the market for these items is ripe and ready.
Eyeglasses are tools that many people require today. They've got a big market, whether it’s for optical treatment or just visual enhancement.
You can also create landmark prints of famous world places, personalities, buildings, and more. These landmarks could be simple or complex, depending on their features.
You can create many things with a 3D printer beyond the items on the list above.
Can You Make a Career Out of 3D Printing?
Today, 3D printing is gradually penetrating the main industries of the world. With this growth, a time is coming when nearly everything may need 3D modeling, somehow.
What this means is that you can make a career out of it. The technology is now catching the attention of many companies.
Jobs are being advertised for engineers with 3D printing skills on job platforms such as Upwork. This means that even though 3D printing isn’t a career as a standalone, it could still be your career at some point.Find 3D Printing Jobs on Upwork
This is a perfect field of expertise for people with a love and passion for new technologies requiring a keen eye for details. Software developers, biomedical technologists, animation designers, engineers, and others may need to possess 3D printing skills to aid their work.
Will 3D Printing Stocks Go Up?
The adoption of 3D assets is fast-moving upwards. It finds uses in multi-sectoral industries, making the business lucrative for investors. From an optimist’s point of view, the stocks for 3D items have the potential to record significant growth in the next decade.
The drivers for the industry to make huge leaps ahead include faster printing, thanks to more efficient printers. The printers are also affordable nowadays, making them easily integrated into mainstream manufacturing that contemplates the cost aspect.
Moreover, printers that can produce metal products are now available. Factories can use these printers without any fear of fires. For this reason, more companies are incorporating 3D printers into their assembly lines at the expense of traditional methods.
With these things in mind, there’s every reason to stake something good on 3D printing stocks. The future is bright.
Can I Sell 3D Prints on Etsy?
Besides being a familiar market for handcrafted products, Etsy is also becoming a revolutionary market for 3D prints. And, it seems as though Etsy shows some favor to 3D printed art and accessories more than printed drone parts.
The primary reason is that the artistic category has an extensive market. So, you can sell on Etsy but consider which products are selling faster to enjoy better success.
Check out the best things to sell on Etsy.
For instance, aim to print unique and high-quality furniture and artwork. You can also make and list items like lamps, rings, iPhone cases, skulls, and dolls.
If you're interested in selling your items on Etsy, consider taking an Etsy Masterclass that can help you learn the marketing, sales, and social media skills you need to succeed on the platform.Take an Etsy Masterclass
How Do 3D Printers Get Clients?
As a 3D printer, you'll need clients to keep your business afloat. If you don’t get enough clients, you’re soon going to run out of business.
How do you get customers to your business? Well, it’s essential to talk to different people and make new friends. You can achieve this by being active on social platforms like Facebook, 3D hubs talk, 3DPrinting Reddit (there are lots of cools ways to make money on Reddit), Quora, and other forums.
While on these platforms, you should provide insightful information to help stranded members. Be honest with your answers, comments, and inputs to gain other people's trust.
Having your own blog also helps. There are also free traffic sources to get visitors and potential customers to your blog that way.
Having an online portfolio that shows your track record is a must-have. Make sure it includes your original hardware designs, 3D models, or videos on YouTube and Instagram. With these strategies, a printer can get as many clients as possible.
Are There Companies That Will 3D Print for You?
You may not have the machines, skills, and resources to make 3D prints for some reason. Luckily, some companies can 3D print for you. Whether you want large-scale 3D printing, small-scale printers, or designers, there’s always a place to do your work.
Here is a list of the most common companies to print your designs.
- Fast Radius
- Star Rapid
- Stratasys Direct
There are many of these types of companies, so you can find the one that suits your particular needs.
Is 3D Printing the Future?
Looking at the current trends, it’s not hard to predict where 3D printing is headed. Since the introduction of this technology, it has seen landmark transitions into the manufacturing space.
Accordingly, 3D printing is shaping the future of many manufacturing industries. It offers low-cost production while keeping high-quality standards. The turnaround for 3D prints is excellent.
The solid gains of this technology are pushing companies in the auto, medical, and aerospace sectors to adopt it. And as expected, that’s already happened, and additive manufacturing is an integral part of the existing industrial processes.
Whether it takes over entirely in the future remains a question yet to be answered.
Do You Need a Degree for 3D Printing?
When recruiting 3D printing technicians, employers usually require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or software development. If you want to learn a lot about this technology, undertaking a degree in a manufacturing area is vital.
Will 3D Printing Take Away Jobs?
One of the benefits of printers is that they reduce human labor, hence saving production costs. On the flip side, this craft can take the place of many people employed in the manufacturing sector.
How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost?
Generally, printers for small-scale printing work can cost between $300-$500. Other printers with premium features can go up to $1,500.
Then, there are high-end professional 3D printers that provide powerful functions. They cost anywhere between $1,500-$20,000.
Is 3D Printing Useless?
3D printing technologies are neither useless nor overhyped. This is something that has added real value to different production applications. And, market surveys have been done with results showing the positive potential of 3D printing.
Generally, you can make money from 3D printing. The most vital thing is to choose the right niche and create prints that are helpful to consumers. However, patience is vital as it can take plenty of time to make items and earn a good income.
It’s no secret that 3D printing is coming of age. That’s why there’s a collective uptake of 3D printing technology in the primary manufacturing industries, including medical, automotive, and aerospace.
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