3D printers are becoming one of the most exciting and talked about technologies in the world, and it’s easy to see why; These amazing machines can create just about anything, from detailed models and illustrations to functional parts and products.
But what exactly is this piece of hardware and how does it work? Simply put, 3D printers build items by fusing together layers of filament plastics or composite materials. This process is controlled by a computer file that contains instructions for the printer.
The file is created using special 3D modeling software, which allows you to design or download models from the Internet. With a 3D printer, you can turn your ideas into reality in just a few hours.
But not many people own a 3D printer or know how to use it. That is why a 3D printing business can be very lucrative, with various ways to use this machine to start a business. Here are some of the most popular ways to earn money with your 3D printing prowess.
1. Custom 3D printing service on demand
A printing service involves taking custom orders from customers and printing the requested items for them.
With a print-on-demand business model, you only print items as you receive orders. Since there is no need to keep a stock of products, it makes for a very flexible and scalable business! You can start small and grow your business as you receive more orders.
It is a great business model if you like to design different types of 3D prints based on the needs of the client. For example, customers can request specific things, such as:
- Prototypes for new products.
- personalized home decor
- crafts for school projects
- Custom gifts
Note that for this business model, you may need more than one type of filament and device to create a wider range of objects. For example, fused deposition modeling machines (or FDM printers) are better for making low-cost prototypes and larger, less complex items. However, stereolithography (SLA) printers use a resin that is better for detailed elements, molds, and functional parts.
Start by creating a portfolio that showcases your experience printing 3D models. Then, set up a website or online store and start marketing your service through networks and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.
You can also register your business on 3D printing marketplace websites like Shapes, hubs.comfiver and treatment.
2. Create and sell your own products
If you want to specialize in specific types of 3D printed products, you can choose to create your products in advance and sell them online. Some popular items include:
- D&D miniatures and figurines
- architecture models
- glasses frames
- Nerf toys and guns
- phone cases
You can design items from scratch using 3D design software, or you can sell the designs of others, but only if the copyright license allows it.
Places to sell your wares
One of the best platforms for selling 3D printed products is Etsy, which offers a wide range of tools and resources to help you launch your business.
Another option is to sell your products on Amazon Handmade, which also has a large customer base and numerous fulfillment centers that can handle all of your inventory, packaging, and shipping.
When listing your products, it’s essential to provide potential buyers with as much information as possible. This includes high-resolution photos of your product, a detailed description, pricing information, and shipping details. It’s also important to set return policies and shipping times that are reasonable for your potential customers.
While online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon can help you through access to their large customer base, marketing will still need to be an important part of your business strategy if you want to achieve long-term success.
Social media platforms are a particularly powerful method of advertising, especially TikTok and Instagram, where you can use videos and visuals to promote your products.
Post short TikToks and Reels showing how you make and use your products. Remember that consistency is key to building a brand and a fan base on social media!
Another great way to market your products is through influencer marketing. You can identify relevant social media influencers with a large following in your target market and send them free samples of your product in exchange for promoting your product to their audience.
This can be a great way to showcase your 3D printed products to a large number of potential customers.
If you get a large following, you can also consider selling your items through your own online store or Shopifywhere you can save on overhead rates.
Offer 3D printing education
There are many hobbyists who want to learn how to use a 3D printer but don’t know where to start. You can earn a lot of money as an online educator by showing other people how to design and 3D print items.
Here are some of the best ways to monetize this niche:
3. 3D Printing Blog
Starting a blog is still a great way to make money in 2022, but you need to have a strategy to succeed. The key is to consistently post blog posts that are both useful to the reader and relevant to 3D printing.
Learning SEO is paramount if you want your blog posts to rank on Google. You can also drive traffic to your blog by guest posting on other blogs in your niche and using social media platforms to share your content.
Once you get enough traffic to your blog, you can monetize with ads through Google advertising or ad networks like mediavina, monometriceither adthrive.
Another great way to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing. This is where you partner with 3D printing related products or services and place affiliate links to your products or services in your content. Then when someone buys a product through your link, you get a commission!
For example, if you become an Amazon Associate, you can make a blog post about the best 3D printer toolkits and use your affiliate links to link to your favorite products on Amazon.
4. YouTube channel
YouTube is the second most powerful search engine after Google and is the number one place people go to learn new things visually.
You can build a following quickly by consistently posting video tutorials on how to design and 3D print items.
It usually takes several months to grow a YouTube channel, but once you reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, you can apply to be part of the YouTube Partner Program, which allows you to earn money through ads and other perks like “Supers”. ” (which are essentially like tips) and memberships.
5. 3D Printing Course
If you want to earn more passive income from 3D printing, creating an online course that shows beginners how to use a 3D printer is a fantastic option. This is because once you create the course content, you can sell it repeatedly without doing any extra work!
You can host your course on various platforms like Educable, udemyeither shared skill.
The key to success with online courses is creating high-quality content that people find valuable. This means including lots of helpful information, step-by-step instructions, and visuals to help people understand the concepts you’re teaching.
Online courses are most successful when you already have a strong online presence, either through your blog or social media channels.
6. Consultation services
As a 3D printing expert, you can earn a lot of money by offering consulting services to companies or individuals who need help with their 3D printing projects.
For example, you could offer services like 3D printing file optimization, design consulting, or advice on material selection. You can find clients through networking, social media, or freelance platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.
The costs of starting a 3D printing business
It is worth noting that some significant startup costs are involved in starting this type of business. 3D printers and filaments can be expensive, and you may also need to invest in some software. Here’s what you need to know before you get started.
How much does a 3D printer cost?
There is a wide range of prices for 3D printers, depending on the type and size. The cheapest end is around $200, which is suitable for hobbyists. However, the professionals use high quality printers that range from $2,500 to $10,000.
Another option is to rent a 3D printer; companies like Air Wolf3D rent printers starting at $650 per month.
How much does the filament cost?
Filament cost for FDM printers can range from $20 to $120 per kilogram, depending on the material. Entry level resins for SLA printers typically start at $50 per liter, with professional resins going as high as $400.
How much does 3D printing software cost?
Some printing programs, such as Ultimaker Cure Y tinkercad, it’s free and can do the job depending on the items you’re printing. However, they lack the detailed features and speed you may need for certain business ventures.
For example, if you offer rapid prototyping services, you may need to invest in professional software such as autodesk autocadwhich costs $220 per month or $1,775 per year.
Depending on your business model, there may be additional costs such as shipping, advertising, web hosting, and more. But these three are the biggest up-front investments you’ll need to make, regardless of whether you offer services, products, or educational material.
The best way to determine which 3D printing monetization strategy to pursue is to consider what interests you the most and what your strengths are. For example, are you a great designer? Do you want to create specific types of 3D products? Or are you good at teaching?
Regardless of the path you choose, 3D printing can be much more than a hobby. From Etsy and Amazon to blogs and consulting services, countless creatives around the world are successfully monetizing this exciting niche. Will you be next?